By: Ashley McCubbin
The Clash at the Coliseum saw the debut of the NextGen car in style, with close quarter battling for positions. In the mix of the conversation was Cody Ware.
Posting an average finish of 31st through the 2021 campaign, the Rick Ware Racing driver is not someone fans are used to seeing in the mix up front. However, the NextGen car has created an opportunity for that. Racing in equipment equal to his competitors, Cody Ware positioned himself in fifth in his qualifying heat, missing the transfer by a single spot.
Although he did not start the main event, the boost in performance has resulted in added confidence.
“I think realistically we want to obviously start by improving our average finish,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “I would like to see us competing for top 25s and top 20s on a regular basis. We were always right around the high twenties to 30th place, typically, so to see an average spot boost like that would definitely be the first part, and then, for me personally, to see a little bit of improvement on the superspeedway and road courses where we can eventually be competing for those top 15s and top 10s is definitely where I’d like to be.
“My goals and expectations for the year, even if it’s a pretty big hill to climb, is to be 25th in points. Obviously, last year there’s a lot of heavy hitters that were right around that area as well, but I think you have to set high goals to try to achieve the best and that’s what we’re looking for this year.”
The early confidence also helped solidify Ware’s plans for 2022. He will run the full Cup Series schedule, despite having offers to split his team between NASCAR, IndyCar, and IMSA with his father’s race team.
“Obviously having the L.A. weekend go as well as it did for us and the race team as a whole just gave me a lot of confidence going into the Daytona 500 and the season as a whole,” he commented. “I think as the year goes on we’ll obviously see a lot of R&D and development go on with some of the bigger teams, but hopefully with that being said with our Stewart-Haas alliance we’ll also be somewhat on the cutting edge of that and be able to get some of that information as it comes along throughout the year.”
The alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing is new, announced through this off-season, and will see information traded between the organizations. Notably, Ware’s car for the Daytona 500 was prepared by SHR members.
“The big part of this alliance that makes it mutually beneficial for both us and SHR is obviously having the 51 and the 15 for them to be able to try different things, to be able to try experimental setups or try different things,” Ware explained. “They’re gonna have another two cars to work off of and build information off of, so for them it gives them more cars to learn from, and for us in exchange we’re getting a lot of that setup information and alongside also having the Ford engine lease program for the year is gonna be a big step in power for us compared to year’s past.
“So, I think for all parties involved it’s gonna be a really good thing to just have more cars and more information for everybody going into this new car.”
Ware will take the green flag for the Daytona 500 from the 32nd position, hopeful of starting off the campaign on a high note.