Justin Haley revealed Saturday that there is a lot of depth to why he signed a multiyear deal with Rick Ware Racing, including the economics of the sport.
Haley will drive a Ford Mustang for Ware beginning in 2024. There are still details to be worked out — car number and team partners, all of which Ware can go about selling now that Haley is signed. The news came as a surprise considering how close Haley has been to Kaulig Racing, whom he’s driven for in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Cup Series since 2019.
“RFK (Racing) and RWR wanted me and they were very persistent. I like that,” Haley said at Pocono Raceway of the Ware team and its alliance partner. “Rick gave me a really good opportunity and a really good deal that I kept lying in bed thinking about and wanting to take. I don’t want to speak (for) Rick, but I think back to where Spire was a few years ago – a lot of people were wondering why Spire was in the sport, especially after our win. They thought it was a money grab or whatnot.
“I think Rick really wants to show people that he’s here to win races, and they just won an NHRA race last week. Rick Ware, in all forms of motor sports, is a race-winning, championship-caliber team, and he wants to drive his NASCAR program to that. And signing me, a full-time driver, was, I think, one of his first steps after the RFK alliance. Rick wants to change the narrative.”
When Haley met with Ware, he was given the address to come to the RFK Racing shop in Concord, North Carolina. Haley initially thought it was a mistake because he didn’t realize the Ware cars are housed in the same shop as those of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher. Given how Haley has found himself competing against the Ware cars in recent weeks, it’s further fed his belief in the organization.
“There’s a lot more to it than just the sport side of it, and I have to protect myself,” Haley said.
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The deal between the two sides has been done for almost a month. Haley said it was finalized the week leading into the Chicago race, and the unusual timing of the announcement is nothing more than needing to be publicized so Ware can focus on putting his 2024 program together.
“I think there is a lot of uncertainty in the sport right now (and) in the world, really,” Haley said. “Obviously, there’s a charter agreement that’s not finalized, there’s a TV deal that’s not finalized and the election is next year. So, I think for Matt and Kaulig Racing, and where they are – obviously, he’s a businessman, and he needs to make business decisions. I think we were close to doing a deal. I feel like it was a probable option. I feel like I had a few deals, and Rick just kept coming and calling and just gave me a really good deal.
“I believe in what they’ve been able to do, especially with the RFK alliance. Brad Keselowski and Steve (Newmark) over at RFK were very helpful in my decision process; they were convincing as well. I think with our alliance with RFK, Rick Ware…maybe on the surface it might look an odd move, but there’s a lot more depth to it than you might think.”
As for the security of a multiyear deal, the 24-year-old Haley laughed that Ware wanted to sign him for a lifetime.
“He wanted to sign me forever,” Haley said. “That’s where Kaulig was too. I called Chris (Rice) and Matt (Kaulig) after it went out, and they both told me they would have loved to stay with me forever, but the economics of the sport right now are just not in a position where a driver like me who doesn’t have a lot of sponsorship can thrive.
“And Chris and Matt both told me that. They said, ‘We’d love to have you forever.’ Chris mentioned yesterday in an interview that it wasn’t performance related, it’s purely economics of where we are as a sport right now, and as I said, Rick and everyone at RWR was giving me a chance and opportunity. I think it’s something we both can build around, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m really so excited to step into this role and hopefully be what the team can build around.”