NASCAR team confirms replacement for suspended driver

Cody Ware, Rick Ware Racing, NASCAR (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images)
Cody Ware, Rick Ware Racing, NASCAR (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images) /

Zane Smith is set to replace Cody Ware at Rick Ware Racing in this Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

Cody Ware was ruled out from this past Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway due to a “personal matter”, with Rick Ware Racing calling upon three-time Truck Series champion Matt Crafton to replace him behind the wheel of the No. 51 Ford.

It was later announced that NASCAR had suspended Ware after he was taken into custody by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina.

The 27-year-old Greensboro native was being held on a felony charge of “assault by strangulation — inflict serious injury”, plus a misdemeanor charge of “assault on female”.

The charges stem from an incident which took place on Monday, April 3, the day after his most recent Cup Series start at Richmond Raceway. Bond was set at $3,000, and he was bonded out of custody, though recent reports indicate that he is back in jail on two additional charges.

As the legal process continues to play out, Cody Ware remains suspended indefinitely by NASCAR.

As a result, Rick Ware Racing needed to name a new driver for this coming Sunday afternoon’s NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway.

They have since confirmed that reigning Truck Series champion Zane Smith is set to replace Ware behind the wheel of the No. 51 Ford in this 400-lap race around the four-turn, 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) Ridgeway, Virginia oval.

Smith, who is in his fourth full season in the Truck Series, has made three career Cup Series starts. He made his series debut at World Wide Technology at Gateway last June as the replacement for Chris Buescher behind the wheel of the No. 17 Ford for RFK Racing when Buescher was sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols. He finished in 17th place.

He then drove the No. 36 Ford for Front Row Motorsports, the team for which he has driven in the Truck Series since last year, in the 2023 season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. He raced his way into the “Great American Race” via his Bluegreen Vacations Duel result, and he finished in 13th place.

His most recent start came at Phoenix Raceway. Front Row Motorsports confirmed just before the season began that he would be making six starts behind the wheel of the team’s chartered No. 38 Ford in place of Todd Gilliland this year, and this was the first of those six starts.

Now the 23-year-old Huntington Beach, California native is set to get the opportunity to compete for a third different team in four Cup Series starts.

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The NOCO 400 is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 from Martinsville Speedway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, April 16. Anybody who has not yet started a free trial of FuboTV may do so now!