(Photo: Christian Koelle)

2019 NASCAR Driver Reviews: Rick Ware Racing

Rick Ware Racing had more of a presence in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2019 with at least two cars in all 36 races. The team also had four cars in some of the season’s races, debuting a fourth entry at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, the No. 54, after previously unveiling the No. 53, a third car.

One of the biggest moments of 2019 for RWR came from the incident involving eventual 2019 Cup champion Kyle Busch in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway playoff race. Garrett Smithley was piloting the No. 52 entry for RWR. ‘

During the process of going another lap down, lack of communication resulted in Busch rear-ending the No. 52, ultimately hindering his opportunity at a better finish. Busch’s comments following the race rose into question not only Smithley’s credentials but other drivers’ as well.

Smithley was just one of many drivers who got a chance to show what they could with very little in the Cup Series with RWR. A lot of young talent that may never see a high-dollar ride makes for a wide array of competitors in the organization’s seats. Whether it be drivers who are looking for a second chance like JJ Yeley or drivers who are looking to make little splashes before cannonballing into the pool like Josh Bilicki, Bayley Currey and BJ McLeod, RWR gave equal opportunities for drivers to show their worth, and it really showed when those drivers outran well-funded organizations.

 

Ware’s Nos. 51 and 52 entries competed in all 36 Cup races with a wide range of drivers. The No. 53 car made its debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May with McLeod and ran 14 more times during the season. The fourth and final car for the organization, the No. 54, made its debut at Bristol in August and ran three more times during the season.

During the 2019 season, Yeley tied the best career finish of the organization of a 12th-place run at Daytona International Speedway in July. The best non-restrictor plate finish came twice during the 2019 season, with Currey picking up a 25th-place finish at Pocono Raceway and McLeod finishing 25th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series winner went straight from victory lane to qualify Ware’s Cup entry at Talladega Superspeedway. Spencer Boyd had just earned the victory in the Sugarlands Shine 250 and literally ran from victory lane to pit lane.

During the season finale for the ARCA Menards Series at Kansas, Carson Ware made his debut behind the wheel of the No. 51 Jacob Companies Toyota Camry. It was the team’s return to ARCA and first start since Smithley raced at Daytona in 2015.

Ware plans to field at three full-time entries in 2020, with Yeley and Joey Gase piloting two of the three cars. It will be Yeley’s first full-time season in the Cup Series since 2013 and Gase’s first full-time season Cup after running six full-time seasons in the Xfinity Series. It is unknown whether the third entry will be filled by a single driver or spread across multiple drivers much like in 2019; Smithley had previously been rumored as a driver of one of the team’s cars.

After having a higher presence in the Cup Series in 2019, the goal for 2020 should be to improve its equipment and begin building a bigger notebook. Having two cars with the same drivers every week means that the organization can start tuning up the car and building setups based on a sole driver and can improve on second trips to tracks instead of having to go back for another driver.

2019 Stats:

36 starts, no wins, no top-five’s, no top-10’s

Best Finish: No. 51 – 19th (Daytona 500), No. 52 – 12th (Daytona, July), No. 53 – 26th (Texas, November) and No. 54 – 26th (Indianapolis)

Point Standings: No. 51 – 34th, No. 52 – 38th, No. 53 – 39th and No. 54 – 43rd (Owners Points)

Season Grade: C

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About Christian Koelle

Christian Koelle
Christian Koelle returns to Frontstretch in 2020 as the photo editor at Frontstretch. He will continue to contribute content in the ARCA Menards Series, Sioux Chief Challenge, and ARCA East & West Series. He is also engaged and will be getting married during the 2020 NASCAR off-season. His favorite tracks on the circuit include Barber Motorsports Park, Iowa Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, and Bristol Motor Speedway. During the season, Christian also spends time as a photographer with multiple other outlets shooting Monster Energy AMA Supercross, Minor League & Major League Baseball, and NCAA Football.

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