Rick Ware Racing: Justin Haley/Kaz Grala Las Vegas Race Advance

JUSTIN HALEY | KAZ GRALA
Las Vegas Advance

Event Overview
● Event: Pennzoil 400 (Round 3 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 3
● Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 267 laps/400.5 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 85 laps / Final Stage: 102 laps
● TV/Radio: FOX / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Justin Haley, Driver of the No. 51 Ohanafy Ford Mustang

● Justin Haley, driver of the No. 51 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing (RWR), partners with Ohanafy for his seventh NASCAR Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ohanafy is at the forefront of innovative technology built specifically for the beverage industry.

● In six previous starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Haley has one top-10 finish with a best of eighth earned last March. Overall, Haley has led 16 laps at Las Vegas and has completed all but 12 of 1,613 laps possible.

● Nearly half of Haley’s 13 Cup Series top-10 finishes have come on intermediate tracks. In 44 starts on tracks more than a mile in length and less than 2 miles, Haley has two top-fives and six top-10s.

● In addition to his Cup Series resume at Vegas, Haley has made six starts at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he’s posted four top-10 finishes.

● Last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Haley and the No. 51 team ran as high as eighth after suffering damage in a multicar accident in the opening laps of the race. Haley spent a majority of the race running well inside the top-15, his Ford Mustang strong on the long runs. The 24-year-old was vying for a top-10 finish before the final green-flag pit stops and a late-race restart hampered his ability to advance higher than his finishing position of 20th.

Kaz Grala, Driver of the No. 15 N29 Capital Partners Ford Mustang

● Kaz Grala is set to make his first Cup Series start at Las Vegas in the No. 15 N29 Capital Partners Ford Mustang for RWR. Sunday’s race on the 1.5-mile oval will also be his first Cup Series start on a true intermediate track and follows a 14th-place finish on the superspeedway-style 1.54-mile layout at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

● Grala owns three Xfinity Series starts at Las Vegas with a best-finish of 16th in March 2018 and three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts with a best-finish of fifth in September 2017.

● Grala’s 14th-place finish at Atlanta last Sunday was his third top-15 in the Cup Series. His best result remains a sixth-place effrort at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway earned in April 2021.

Rick Ware Racing Notes

● The 2024 drag racing season unofficially kicked off two weeks ago in Bradenton, Florida, during the PRO Superstar Shootout, where RWR’s Clay Millican promptly set fast time in the first round of qualifying with an elapsed time of 3.688 seconds and a speed of 336.49 mph, and then remained atop the leaderboard by securing the No. 1 qualifying position. Millican advanced all the way to the final round of eliminations, a stout performance that highlighted an expanded role this season by longtime partner Parts Plus on the No. 51 Top Fuel Dragster, and the addition of NHRA veteran Nicky Boninfante as co-crew chief.

● In the first racing event of the 2024 season, Cody Ware scored a podium finish Jan. 20 on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile Daytona road course driving a Ligier JS P320 in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge LMP3 class. The following weekend, Ware and teammate Preston Pardus competed in the twin Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup races at Daytona.

● Rick Ware has been a motorsports mainstay for more than 40 years. It began at age 6 when the third-generation racer began his driving career and has since spanned four wheels and two wheels on both asphalt and dirt. Competing in the SCCA Trans Am Series and other road-racing divisions led Ware to NASCAR in the early 1980s, where he finished third in his NASCAR debut – the 1983 Warner W. Hodgdon 300 NASCAR Grand American race at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. More than a decade later, injuries would force Ware out of the driver seat and into fulltime team ownership. In 1995, Rick Ware Racing was formed, and with wife Lisa by his side, Ware has since built his eponymous organization into an entity that fields two fulltime entries in the NASCAR Cup Series while simultaneously campaigning successful teams in the Top Fuel class of the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, the NTT INDYCAR Series, Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup, Progressive American Flat Track and FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX).

● In 2023, RWR enjoyed three NHRA Top Fuel wins with Millican, two Progressive American Flat Track wins with rider Briar Bauman, and multiple WSX victories with riders Shane McElrath and Joey Savatgy coming off their 2022 WSX championship.

Justin Haley, Driver Q&A

You started the points-paying season with two superspeedway-style races. What do you expect from the No. 51 team in the first race on a true intermediate track at Las Vegas?

“The intermediate tracks can be some of the toughest to figure out. I’ve had some good runs at Vegas, so hopefully I can give some feedback that will help us get to a good place for the race. The two tracks we’ve been at don’t really compare to what is coming next. Las Vegas and Phoenix will give us a good idea of what we’ve really got. The more time we have working together at the track, the more we are going to learn, no matter where we are racing.”

You’ve had a strong start to the season, and you say time at track has been beneficial to building strong relationships within the team. Is there one thing that is on the to-do list for improvement?

“I’ve been super fortunate to have fast racecars. There is still a lot we need to work on. We have to look at this as a new team even though RWR has been around for a while. With new people, we’re still working through communication and a lot of the little things to build things up to where they need to be. It’s hard to do a lot of that at the shop, away from the track, so we’ve had to work through some of that as it comes up during a race. I think the way we worked through a lot of what happened at Atlanta was good and shows we’re on the right track.”

Have there been moments in these first three races that have made you feel like things are headed in the right direction?

“Getting back from Daytona and seeing the shop guys – the ones who have really been the framework for RWR over the years – they were really excited. That was probably one of the coolest things that has happened so far and it just continues. We go to Atlanta and run in the top-10 – it just shows all these guys that it’s worth it. All the work, the frustration, it’s all worth it. It takes time, but we’re getting there.”

Kaz Grala, Driver Q&A

Las Vegas will be the first true 1.5-mile track you visit. Is there anything that can be carried over from last weekend’s race at the 1.5-mile, superspeedway-style track at Atlanta?

“I actually think we learned a few things we can use at Las Vegas. Atlanta races differently, but it’s still similar to the mile-and-a-half tracks in some ways. It’ll be nice to have a practice session and be able to work on some stuff instead of just jumping into the race. Seat time and working through things at track are where we are going to learn the most. If we can get a good start on the intermediate tracks early in the season, it gives us something to build toward to be competitive later in the season.”

How are you feeling about the progress of moving to the Cup Series fulltime with a team that is rebuilding?

“I think everyone is doing a great job. It’s always a work in progress. We will never reach a point where we’re content, but I think going back to the Clash, we’ve shown what everyone at RWR can do. We’ve got good cars, good people and the more we race, the better we’re going to get.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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