By Dustin Albino

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Rick Ware has experienced many bad days at the race track. But Sunday’s postponed Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway was among his most enjoyable.

“This is the best day to date, and I hope and pray we have more,” Rick Ware told with a smile.

Along with Cody Ware, who drives the No. 51 Ford full time, Rick Ware Racing brought on David Ragan for Daytona, a formidable superspeedway competitor to fill its No. 15 car at Daytona. In the Daytona 500 earlier this year, Ragan placed eighth for RWR and even scored a top-five finish for the team in 2020 through an alliance with Front Row Motorsports.

The team’s agenda on Sunday was to remain in the lead draft for the duration of the race. That it did. And at the same time, the duo missed multiple multi-car incidents, and even snuck through the “Big One” with 22 laps to go. Then, No. 51 car found itself in third.

With many cars having significant damage, Ware and Ragan were able to be competitive over the final 16 laps of the race, which is when the 400-mile event was resumed, following a near four-hour rain delay.

And with a half-lap remaining, Ware found himself in third but dropped to sixth when the checkered flag flew.

Despite losing three spots, it was still a good day at the office, as Cody tallied his first top-10 finish in the Cup Series.

“It feels really good,” Cody said of his run. “I think it‘s just testimony to never giving up and all the hard work everybody is putting in on this race team.

“Definitely trying not to get choked up because it felt like it was going to be a pretty good battle for the win on the white flag and just got in the long lane. We went racing hard and it‘s a good feeling to be up front, so I‘m very happy with the day today.”

As a father watching his son wheel the No. 51 car inside the top 10, Rick found himself proud. When Cody climbed from the cockpit, Rick was there to greet him.

Rick will settle with a sixth-place finish, though being in contention for the win.

“It would have been cool to get a third (place finish) with the rain out,” Rick added, “but I‘m more proud to have a sixth at the checkered (flag) because we had to race with some guys really hard. The car did everything it needed to do.

“Cody did a heck of a job. It‘s hard to learn how to race with these guys when they‘re not used to you being around to get their respect. In 400 miles, he didn‘t do anything stupid and held his own. I think that‘s pretty respectable.”

Despite seeing plenty of mean tweets in the past, Cody has had plenty of success in his racing career. Sunday, however, ranks high on his list of accomplishments.

“It‘s top of the board,” he said. “Anytime you get to go race towards the front and battle with the leaders, it makes me feel like all the hard work pays off. There‘s definitely a lot more hard days than good days in NASCAR, but man, what a day. I‘m just happy to be here.”

Knowing these type of runs could be far and few between, Rick is going to take this one in. For the first time, his underfunded company put two cars inside the top 10.

That’s big.

“This is a win for us to have two top 10s and be competitive all day,” Rick stated. “We did stay out of some trouble, but that was part of our plan to manage that risk. It‘s Cody‘s best finish and my best finish in Cup. I‘m really thankful for that.”

Next week the Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway where Cody finished 19th in May.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *