Rick Ware Racing will make a driver change in the next two NASCAR Cup Series Races. Cody Ware will have to sit out due to recent carbon monoxide exposure, forcing the team to bring another driver into the mix, albeit one with several starts on his career resume.
RWR released a statement on Friday, Sept. 10, confirming that Ware will miss the next two races. Smithley will take over the No. 51 Chevrolet for the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway before another driver will control the stock car at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“After being treated in the infield care center at Darlington Raceway this past weekend, Cody Ware will be sidelined as a precautionary measure for both Richmond Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway,” Rick Ware Racing said in a statement. “On Monday after being treated, Cody was still feeling adverse effects of Carbon Monoxide. Cody felt that it was in the best interest for the team to have a replacement driver for the next two weeks.
“Garrett Smithley will pilot the No. 51 20th Anniversary 9/11 Tribute Tunnel to Towers car at Richmond Raceway this weekend,” the statement continued. “The driver for Bristol Motor Speedway will be announced at a later date.”
The second NASCAR Cup Series playoff race will take place on Saturday, Sept. 11, at Richmond Raceway. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage as Smithley replaces Ware in the No. 51. The season will continue on Sept. 18 with a trip to Bristol Motor Speedway.
Ware Finished the Southern 500 33rd Overall After a Crash
Ware crashed on lap 209 of the Cook Out Southern 500 and headed to the infield care center at Darlington Raceway. This incident marked the second consecutive week that RWR teammates took each other out of contention during a high-profile race. Three wrecked each other during the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Aug. 28. The wreck at Darlington only involved Ware and James Davison.
Ware remained in the care of the medical professionals for a considerable amount of time, prompting several questions from racing fans after other drivers left the care center before him. The team tweeted that he had high O2 levels but that the professionals checked and released him.
The driver of the No. 51 RWR Chevrolet later provided an update on social media. “Nasty bout of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, doing a lot better thanks to medical. Thanks to everyone who checked in on me. Time for some cookout and sleep…” Ware tweeted well after the crash on Saturday, Sept. 5.
Smithley Primarily Drives for Rick Ware Racing
The 29-year-old Smithley has spent the majority of his four-year Cup Series career racing for RWR on a part-time schedule. He has mixed in some starts for Spire Motorsports, StarCom Racing, and Premium Motorsports but 44 of his 62 Cup Series starts have taken place in an RWR stock car.
Smithley has started 19 races for RWR in 2021 — 18 in the No. 53. His best outing is a 25th-place run at Nashville Superspeedway on June 20. He achieved less success during the first race at Richmond on April 18, finishing 35th overall and ahead of teammates Ware and Josh Bilicki. The other RWR car finished 33rd with Davison behind the wheel.