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Justin Haley Records First Non-Superspeedway Top-10 for Rick Ware Racing at Darlington

Finishing an impressive ninth at Darlington Raceway, Haley recorded the best non-superspeedway finish for Rick Ware Racing in 600-plus NASCAR Cup Series starts.


hero image for Justin Haley Records First Non-Superspeedway Top-10 for Rick Ware Racing at Darlington

As Rick Ware Racing continues working to improve its NASCAR Cup Series program, runs like Sunday at Darlington are extremely rewarding, as the organization puts the fruits of its labor on display for the world to see.

It may still be a surprise to see the No. 51 Ford Mustang Dark Horse running at the front of the pack on raw speed, but in the last two weeks, Justin Haley has established himself and RWR as a threat for a pair of top-10 finishes.

While the stars didn’t align for a top-10 finish at Kansas Speedway – dropping back to 18th in NASCAR Overtime – things worked out much better for Haley in Sunday’s Goodyear 400, with the No. 51 North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police Ford Mustang placing in ninth.

“We had a really good Rick Ware Racing No. 51 Ford Mustang Dark Horse today,” said Justin Haley post-race. “From the moment we unloaded it was super into the track and fast. We kind of decided to go with the No. 6 team’s setup and in the end, he won, and we had a great race.”

It’s the organization’s ninth top-10 finish in 616 NASCAR Cup Series starts, and the first for the team on a non-drafting track. For Haley, the finish marks a pattern of continued success at Darlington Raceway, picking up his third consecutive top-10 in the Spring event at the 1.366-mile oval.

After starting 28th, Haley spent much of the first half of Sunday’s 400-mile contest running outside the top 25 but began making a charge towards the front of the field in the second stage.

However, it was the decision by Chris Lawson to bring Haley down pit road for new tires on Lap 130, after less than one lap of green-flag racing, that gave the team a shot in the arm, as a 40-lap run allowed the No. 51 to climb inside the top-15.

After that quick climb, Justin Haley had everybody’s attention.

The Winamac, Indiana native continued to push forward, as the Rick Ware Racing machine looked to have some incredible pace, especially against his competitors in the long runs. So, as the race’s final stage continued, Haley continued to slowly inch up the running order.

As the battle for the lead was heating up between Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick, Haley had just moved around Chase Elliott and Michael McDowell to take 11th. Thus, when the two drivers in the heat of the victory battle suffered flat tires, the No. 51 was promoted to ninth.

“Overall good day, great execution on pit road and we cleaned up a lot of little things,” Haley continued. “It’s really cool to bring home a top-10 for Rick [Ware], everyone on the team, and all of the guests from NC Fraternal Order of Police and the families and friends of the fallen officers who we carried with us on the car today.”

The result of Sunday’s contest from Darlington is an enormous step in the right direction for Rick Ware Racing, which had a previous-best Darlington finish of 19th from an attrition-filled race in 2022. This weekend, both Haley (ninth) and Grala (18th) improved upon that mark.

With the continued week-to-week improvements for alliance partner RFK Racing, there is no reason to believe that the climb towards the front half of the NASCAR Cup Series field will stop here for Rick Ware Racing.

Leaving Darlington, Haley sits 32nd in NASCAR Cup Series points, with the No. 51 and No. 15 sitting 33rd and 34th in owner points. At this point, a playoff berth seems far-fetched barring a shock victory from Haley, but with 23 races remaining on the year, the team will look to continue developing a program capable of competing for top-10 finishes every week.

Photo Credit: Danny Hansen, NKP for Ford Performance

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