By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite picking up some damage in the field-clearing wreck with 22 laps to go, Cody Ware persevered to score his first career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Cup Series.
As the field entered Turn 1 at Daytona International Speedway, the skies opened up. In a worst-case scenario, multiple drivers at the front of the pack lost control in the rain. Ware, mid-pack in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Ford Mustang slowed to avoid the carnage. Though he was pounded in the driver’s door by a spinning Todd Gilliland, the Greensboro, N.C. native emerged relatively unscathed.
“I think the big thing was just perseverance,” admitted Ware. “There was a lot of attrition in this race, and we made sure to be cautiously aggressive in the first part of this race, so to walk away from it and get the chance to race with the leaders and battle all the way up to third and try to fight for the win was really an awesome day.
“I think this will give us a lot of positive energy and momentum heading into Darlington next weekend, another track where we’ve had some success this year already, so being sixth is a good day. I wish we could have got more. I think it just shows how good of a day we had and I’m definitely going to go to sleep tonight happy.”
During the three-plus hour red flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, Ware sat on pit road in fourth. Once the race restarted, the 26-year-old drifted back. However, once Ware teamed up with David Ragan, Joey Logano, and BJ McLeod, he began moving forward. With about two laps to go he caught the leader pack. Opting to push a fellow Ford Performance driver, Ware lined up behind Austin Cindric.
However, with a pair of Richard Childress Racing cars leading, and only 10 cars in the pack, there wasn’t enough energy to make many moves. In addition to the lack of energy, Chevrolets outnumbered the Fords in the pack. When the checkered flag waved, Ware crossed the line in sixth.
“I’m just super proud of everyone with the No. 51 team,” explained Ware. “I just want to thank Nurtec ODT and Ford Performance and everybody who has made this possible. There’s a lot more downs and ups in NASCAR, but to be here and to get my first top 10 and have both RWR cars in the top 10 this weekend is really phenomenal. I can’t think Steve Barkdoll and my crew and everyone who was involved in making this happen today.”
With qualifying rained out, Ware started 33rd. Because of the fact that the race at Daytona International Speedway being the regular season finale for the NASCAR Cup Series aggression was high. Opting to preserve his car for the end of the race, Ware spent much of the first two Stages in the back of the pack.
The sixth-place finish was Ware’s first career top-10 in the Cup Series. It was also his second top-10 finish in NASCAR competition his first coming in the Xfinity Series in 2020. With Ware’ teammate, Ragan, also finishing in the top-10, it was the first time that Rick Ware Racing had both of their cars finishing inside the top-10 in the same race. Together it marked Rick Ware’s fifth and sixth top-10s as a NASCAR Cup Series team owner.
Next for Ware is the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, September 4 at 6:00 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcasted on USA Network, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.