NASCAR driver returning at Talladega after 29-race suspension

Cody Ware, who was reinstated before the 2024 season, is set to compete in his first NASCAR Cup Series race in over a year at Talladega Superspeedway.
Cody Ware, Rick Ware Racing, and Josh Berry, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR
Cody Ware, Rick Ware Racing, and Josh Berry, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Cody Ware was arrested by the Iredell County (North Carolina) Sheriff’s Office after an altercation with his then-girlfriend last April while he was in the midst of what was supposed to be his second season as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver for his father's Rick Ware Racing team.

He was held on two charges: a felony charge of “assault by strangulation — inflict serious injury”, and a misdemeanor charge of “assault on female”. NASCAR suspended him indefinitely, and he did not compete in any more races throughout the 2023 season.

He had competed in only seven of 36 races, and seven drivers ended up driving the No. 51 Ford at some point over the course of the season's final 29 events.

Cody Ware reinstated, set for NASCAR return

Ware was reinstated by NASCAR ahead of the 2024 season after all charges were dropped in December, a decision that came after both the 28-year-old Greensboro, North Carolina and the female, who had been charged with simple assault in September, opted not to cooperate with prosecutors.

Ware did not compete in any of the season's first nine races, with Riley Herbst driving the No. 15 Ford in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway and Kaz Grala driving it in all eight races since. Justin Haley now drives the No. 51 Ford full-time.

Now Ware is set to return to NASCAR for his first Cup Series start in more than a year this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. He is set to drive the No. 15 Ford in this Sunday afternoon's 188-lap GEICO 500 around the four-turn, 2.66-mile (4.281-kilometer) high-banked Lincoln, Alabama oval.

Prior to the season, it was announced that Ware would be running "about 10 races" this year. This remains the plan, but the locations of his future starts beyond this Sunday's race have not yet been determined.

Ware has made 97 career Cup Series starts and has competed in select races each year since 2017. His career-high finish is a sixth place finish at Daytona International Speedway in August 2022. His best finish in seven career starts at Talladega is 19th in October 2020.

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Tune in to Fox at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, April 21 for the live broadcast of the GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway. Start a free trial of FuboTV now if you have not already done so!