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Why Justin Haley thinks Rick Ware Racing will only get better

Justin Haley has already enjoyed what many think is a better-than-expected NASCAR Cup season at Rick Ware Racing, but he believes he and his No. 51 Ford team aren’t close to reaching their full potential.

Justin Haley, Rick Ware Racing, MotoRad Ford Mustang

Haley, signed on to RWR last season after it became clear he would not be returning to Kaulig Racing, where he had run several seasons in both the Cup and Xfinity series.

RWR, committed to improving its performance, had already entered into a technical alliance with RFK Racing the year prior and was looking for a talented driver to help boost its stature in the Cup series.

RWR also fields a team in the NHRA, as well as the IndyCar Series, and is involved in sports car racing as well.

While the 25-year-old native of Winamac, Ind., is currently 30th in the series standings, he has a pair of top-10 finishes and three finishes of 13th or better in the last five races.

Justin Haley, Rick Ware Racing, MotoRad Ford Mustang

Justin Haley, Rick Ware Racing, MotoRad Ford Mustang

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Two of his biggest hits in points came when he was forced out of the Sonoma race early with a steering issue, and he was disqualified at Circuit of the Americas when his car did not meet minimum post-race weight requirements.

“It definitely took some time at the start of the season to, you know, feel like we ere comfortable,” Haley said. “It obviously took some time for me and Chris Lawson (crew chief) and everyone at Rick Ware Racing to really mesh.

“The past month, I feel like we’ve been a 15th place car easily, you know even (at Sonoma) we were running 15th when our power steering gave out. So, yeah, me and the team have definitely found something that works.

“RFK obviously has a lot of speed, and you know we get a lot of info from them that we try to apply. Everyone’s working hard.”

One area where Haley believes his RWR team could improve and could help them take better advantage of the speed they have in their cars is qualifying.

Steady improvement

Even in Haley’s best runs this season he’s had to start from deep in the field. His best start this season was 13th at Atlanta and he’s had just two top 20 starts in the first 17 races.

“Qualifying is a struggle that we’ve had from the start of the year. You know, we started off qualifying in the 30s and then we were kind of in the high 20s. This week and we were 19th,” he said.

“So, it just takes it a second. It’s really hard to simulate qualifying runs in general. I feel like with the set-ups we run, which are kind of based around Brad (Keselowski) and what he does, you always kind of see Brad come on like late in a run.

“I’m not sure if it’s you know what we do with camber or things like that just to not wear the tires early on a run, but definitely we’ve been working on it and putting emphasis and qualifying.”

Having an easier path to the front of the field helps reduce the chances of getting caught up in accidents but also puts the team is a better position to take advantage should he reach the front.

“Right now, my cars drive good enough that if you give us clean air, I do think we could win. But, you know, I think you give half the field clean air and they can win,” Haley said.

“Like I said our cars drive good we have great execution lately. We’ll just keep moving forward there. There’s a lot to keep progressing on.

“But you know, I’ve never been in this position where I’ve had such fast, tough cars week in and week out. They’re truly as competitive as anything I’ve ever drove.”

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