Rick Ware Racing to run full Cup schedule

Camping World Truck Series team Rick Ware Racing will run the full Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2017. The team will field the #51 car for Timmy Hill starting at the Daytona 500. The announcement was made on Friday.

“We’ve been eyeing our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the end of last year,” Ware stated. “We knew with the competition level stronger than ever, we needed to take the steps to make sure we could come to the track and be as competitive as possible, while focused on building our organization as the season presses on.”

As RWR does not have a charter, it will run as an open team. In addition to Hill, the #51 will feature Cody Ware, Stanton Barrett and Kevin O’Connell. Ware, the son of Rick, attempted to make his Cup Series debut at Sonoma in 2016, but failed to qualify. Barrett has competed in 22 career Cup races, his last in 2006. O’Connell has competed in the Xfinity Series as a road course ringer, recording a best finish of 3rd at Road America in 2014 with RWR.

In 2016, Hill contested much of the Xfinity schedule for MBM Motorsports in addition to a part-time Cup and Truck Series schedule for Premium Motorsports. He started driving for Ware’s Nationwide (now Xfinity) program in 2011, winning Rookie of the Year. Hill has never competed in the Daytona 500, but recorded top-15 finishes in three of his four Xfinity starts at the track, including two top-10s. In 2012, Hill competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race with Ware, but did not finish the event.

Ware acquired equipment from Tommy Baldwin Racing, while TBR member Joe Lax will serve as crew chief. Mike Hillman Sr., who formerly owned Hillman Racing, will become a team consultant.

The team last fielded a Cup Series team in 2012. Forming an alliance with Max Q Motorsports, Mike Wallace and Hill drove for the team, but qualified for only one race (Las Vegas) in six attempts. Ware eventually moved Hill back to the Nationwide Series.

RWR shut down its Xfinity Series team after the 2016 season. The team’s two full-time cars, the #15 and #25, finished 28th and 31st in the owners’ points, respectively. With the shutdown, the team announced plans to focus on the Truck Series, fielding a truck for Ware and Spencer Boyd in addition to the Cup team.

The 2017 Daytona 500 will be held on February 26.

Featured image courtesy of Todd Warshaw, Getty Images

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