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June 18, 2024

Justin Haley on future with Rick Ware: ‘If he wants me to stay for five to 10 years … I’ll stay’

Justin Haley walks down the grid during qualifying.
James Gilbert
Getty Images

Silly Season is up and running — and a steamy rumor mill right along with it.

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No. 51 Rick Ware Racing driver Justin Haley appeared to clear the smoke from his future in NASCAR’s premier series next year and beyond on Tuesday afternoon in a teleconference with reporters after an uptick in performance had some tossing his name into the ring for a potential new ride next year for the second consecutive season.

After a sophomore slump in his second full-time Cup Series campaign last year, the 2019 winner at Daytona was forced to make a change, parting ways with Kaulig Racing and signing with Rick Ware Racing to drive the No. 51 Ford full-time starting at the beginning of 2024.

“Looking back a year ago, Rick Ware and Lisa Ware, they gave me an opportunity when I was high and dry and didn’t have an opportunity left in the Cup Series,” Haley said. “I trusted them, they trusted me, and I kind of gambled my whole career and life, and everything I have done up to that point to trust Rick and his process and see him through.”

That “gamble” has since paid off for the 25-year-old as he’s been turning heads throughout the first half of the regular season, turning in two top 10s the last five races — with another P13 this past Sunday at Iowa Speedway — and consistently putting the No. 51 in a position to perform.

With multiple full-time opportunities looming as one of the most dizzying Silly Seasons in recent memory is expected to heat up over the summer, Haley dispelled any notion of moving on from his new home, prepared to go the distance with RWR for the foreseeable future.

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“We’re fully committed,” said the Winamac, Indiana native. “I think we’re running too good right now to, you know, really veer too far off the path of anything. … without Rick, I wouldn’t even be in the Cup Series right now. … Whatever Rick wants my future to be, you know, if (he wants) me to stay for five to 10 years, I’ll stay for five to 10 years, just because he gave me the opportunity when no one else would … I kind of owe everything to him.”

As far as the remainder of 2024, Haley and the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing team show no signs of slowing down as the hunt for a playoff spot with nine regular-season races remaining before the postseason field sets.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done but I’m very proud of what we’ve done so far.”