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Rick Ware Racing: Justin Haley/Cody Ware St. Louis Advance

St. Louis Advance
Event Overview

● Event: Enjoy Illinois 300 (Round 15 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 2
● Location: World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois (near St. Louis)
● Layout: 1.25-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 240 laps/300 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 45 laps / Stage 2: 95 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps
● TV/Radio: FS1 / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Justin Haley, Driver of the No. 51 MotoRad Ford Mustang Dark Horse

● Justin Haley, driver of the No. 51 MotoRad Ford Mustang Dark Horse, will make his third NASCAR Cup Series start at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) in Madison, Illinois, in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300. The Rick Ware Racing (RWR) driver had finishes of 14th and 16th, respectively, when the Cup Series first raced at the track situated just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis in 2022 and 2023.

● The 1.25-mile oval is the site of Haley’s first NASCAR national touring series win. On June 23, 2018, the then-19-year-old made his third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start at WWTR. He started fourth in the 160-lap race, finished fifth in the first stage and 10th in the second stage. Haley lined up on the front row for a restart on lap 154 and took the lead just as the yellow flag waved before the lap was complete. Haley held onto the lead over the green-white-checkered finish en route to his maiden NASCAR victory. Haley earned two additional wins that year and advanced to the Championship 4 of the Truck Series Playoffs.

● Haley heads back to the outskirts of St. Louis after reuniting with a member of the winning team from 2018. J.R. Norris, No. 51 team car chief, served in the same role with Haley’s No. 24 GMS Racing Truck Series team from 2017 to 2018.

● With his 22nd-place finish in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 last Sunday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Haley has four consecutive finishes of 23rd or better. That stretch is highlighted by a ninth-place finish at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 12, his first top-10 of the 2024 season and the best finish for RWR at a non-superspeedway-type track.

Cody Ware, Driver of the No. 15 Jacob Construction Ford Mustang Dark Horse

● Cody Ware returns to the No. 15 Jacob Construction Ford Mustang Dark Horse for RWR to make his second Cup Series start at WWTR. He competed in the series’ inaugural visit to the 1.25-mile track on June 5, 2022. He started 31st and made it through the first two stages of the race before retiring due to power steering issues on lap 167.

● Ware’s first and most recent start of 2024 came at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 21. The 28-year-old driver started 34th and steadily worked his way toward the top-20 throughout the event. Ware was on pace to complete the race with a 20th-place finish when the leaders made contact on the final lap and collected several cars in the aftermath, including Ware’s. He crossed the line 24th for his second-best career result at Talladega.

Rick Ware Racing Notes

● The Mission Foods NHRA Drag Racing Series heads to the Northeast this weekend for the New England Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire. NHRA Top Fuel driver Clay Millican is still looking for his first win of the season, though the RWR team has been showing improvement in recent events. In the April 28 event at zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, Millican and the Parts Plus team advanced to the final round of eliminations and finished second to points leader Justin Ashley. Millican is currently seventh in points after six of 21 scheduled events.

● Rick Ware has been a motorsports mainstay for more than 40 years. It began at age six 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, Progressive American Flat Track and FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX), where RWR won the 2022 SX2 championship with rider Shane McElrath.

Justin Haley, Driver Q&A

Any time NASCAR goes to WWTR, it seems like the track is packed with fans. Is that something that drivers pay attention to and does it make it a more enjoyable experience?

“When I won the Truck Series race in St. Louis, my first national series win ever, the place was just slammed full. I mean it was packed, standing room only. They love their racing in St. Louis and I appreciate that. When you go to driver intros or when you can hear the crowd from inside the car, it’s pretty special. That is somehow the hottest race all year, every year, and the fans are still out there. So, we do appreciate their support. I feel like it’s one of those races where the track is small enough that you kind of feel the energy and that’s a pretty cool aspect of what we get to do.”

You’ve raced in the surrounding area a good bit between the Truck Series at WWTR, as well as are dirt tracks, and now the Cup Series. Where does the area rank on the list of places the series visits throughout the year?

“I was really excited when the Cup Series got to go back to St. Louis. It’s just a cool racetrack, very different, but it was cool to go to a ‘new’ place that I was familiar with. And St. Louis is one of the better places that we go to as far as hanging out in the city and things like that. I’m a Midwest guy from Indiana. I spent a lot of time racing dirt tracks all around Illinois and Indiana. So yeah, it’s pretty high on the list for me.”

Cody Ware, Driver Q&A

It’s been a few years since you raced at WWTR. What are your expectations and goals for this weekend?

“I think the goal is to run well and get the most out of the weekend. We almost came out of Talladega with a top-20 finish. The RWR teams have had a lot of speed and it’s been great to see the progress being made. I got to experience that first-hand at Talladega and I’ve been looking forward to getting back in the car to see what we can do next.”

Is there anything specific you’ve focused on in your preparation for this race?

“Our preparation for this race has really been like any other. It’s a unique track that you can’t really compare to other tracks that we visit, but I think the team has learned a lot up to this point in the season. We’ve been able to look back on what they’ve learned to come up with a plan for how we’ll approach the weekend, what adjustments may help and where we need to be when practice closes out on Saturday.”

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


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