Justin Haley announced over the summer that he would be leaving Kaulig Racing, where he had competed since 2019, to move to Rick Ware Racing for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Haley made the announcement during his second full season behind the wheel of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Matt Kaulig's team. He had competed for the organization in the Xfinity Series from 2019 to 2021 before becoming their first ever full-time Cup Series driver in 2022.
Haley finished in 22nd and 26th place in the point standings in 2022 and 2023, respectively, with Kaulig Racing, and a move to a team widely considered the slowest in the garage -- especially with Live Fast Motorsports no longer competing full-time -- was seen as a bit baffling.
All things considered, the move is more than likely a way for Haley to position himself within the Ford camp so that he can land a more competitive ride -- even more competitive than Kaulig Racing -- a few years down the road. Given Rick Ware Racing's technical alliance with RFK Racing, perhaps he is one of the early favorites to eventually take over from Brad Keselowski.
But first things first: the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Haley is one of 34 drivers set to compete full-time throughout the 36-race Cup Series season. Of those 34 drivers, he is the only one whose car number has not yet been confirmed.
Cody Ware had driven the No. 51 Ford full-time for Rick Ware Racing up until his suspension and arrest last April. He has since been reinstated, but there is no guarantee that he will be back in 2024. The No. 15 Ford has been a shared entry for several years.
Which of those two cars will Haley end up driving during the 2024 season? Is it possible that he could spend time behind the wheel of both, depending on the positioning of the two teams in the owner standings?
Worth noting, NASCAR had the opportunity to repossess one of Rick Ware Racing's two charters after the 2023 season due to the fact that it finished outside of the top 33 in the owner standings (among the 36 charter teams) for three straight years.
They opted not to do so, but there is no telling what the future may hold, especially with a new charter agreement between the series and teams on the horizon. Plus, Rick Ware Racing could end up having their other team post a third straight bottom three finish in 2024, meaning that both charters could theoretically be repossessed at the end of the year.
The No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports team is the only team either Rick Ware Racing team finished ahead of in the owner standings in 2022 and 2023, and now that team is no longer one of the 36 charter teams after their charter was sold to Spire Motorsports.
So on paper, it could be even more difficult for Rick Ware Racing to elevate their performance, in relation to the rest of the field.
Either way, a decision needs to be made on which car Haley is set to drive, especially since the team's addition of the 24-year-old Winamac, Indiana native was one of the reasons NASCAR provided as to why they opted not to repossess a charter. The Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is now under three weeks away.