Haley, 24, has had an up-and-down NASCAR career but has enjoyed his share of success as well. He earned his lone Cup victory in 2019, winning a rain-shortened race at Daytona with Spire Motorsports.
From 2019 to 2021, he competed with Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series, during which he earned four wins. In 2022, he moved up to the Cup Series with Kaulig, but found it a difficult transition.
His best finish since joining Kaulig in Cup came last season in the inaugural Chicago street race, when he finished runner-up to winner Shane van Gisbergen.
While Rick Ware Racing is also a newer organization, it hasn’t experienced near the success as Kaulig in NASCAR, which has prompted a lot of second-guessing of Haley’s decision.
Photo by: David Rosenblum / NKP / Motorsport Images
Ryan Newman, Rick Ware Racing, Jacob Companies Ford Mustang
“Life is about positioning yourself at the right opportunity to succeed, so, for me personally, I thought this was a good step and a good direction – aligning myself with a different manufacturer in Ford and a technical alliance with RFK (Racing) was obviously huge,” Haley said of his move to RWR.
“So, it just kind of seemed like everything had stalled out where I was and I needed to make a change for myself and I thought this was a good opportunity. Rick and Lisa Ware have both been super honest with me and welcoming and I think their personalities and how they run their race teams is awesome.
“They’ve been around for 20 years and they’re scrappy. They get everything out of what they have.”
Haley will compete full-time in RWR’s No. 51 Ford, while the No. 15 team will utilize multiple drivers with Kaz Grala seeing the most starts.
RWR has often used multiple drivers with its teams and Haley said he believes his team will benefit from a full-time driver in the seat.
“The shop guys are super excited about it, so they don’t have to change seats or anything,” Haley said. “I’m like, ‘Hey, when you mount this seat, you can leave it all year. You don’t have to change a single thing. The steering wheel can be in the exact same place.’
“They thought that was funny, so it’ll be fun.”
A winning combination?
Earlier this month, RWR announced it had hired Chris Lawson to serve as Haley’s crew chief this season. Lawson most recently worked with Front Row Motorsports’ successful Truck team.
“Bringing over Chris Lawson, I mean, he’s just a winner. The guy has won. He goes to work every day. He’s probably there first and then the last one to leave,” Haley said.
“I was super adamant on getting him over and feel like he’s going to be a big step in the right direction for us and hopefully we can take the first half of the season and see where we’re at and then improve from there.”
Haley has no illusions about the tough road that lies ahead as he and RWR attempt to boost their stature within the Cup series, but he also believes the organization has what it needs to succeed.
“It’s not going to be like we go and rip off the first 10 wins of the season. I feel like we’re realistic, but I also feel like we really want to be competitive and there are all the right tools now to be competitive at Rick Ware,” he said.
“We have every single tool. We just have to take them out of the toolbox and figure out how to use them and apply that.”
Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images
Justin Haley, Spire Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Fraternal Order of Eagles wins