While it has been known since last July that Haley would drive for RWR and team owner Rick Ware in a multi-year agreement, the car number and other details surrounding Haley’s effort weren’t known until Tuesday.
Veteran Chris Lawson will guide Haley from atop the pit box this season. He’s been a full-time crew chief in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 2020 and moves to the Cup level for the first time this year.
The 38-year-old Medway, Ohio, native comes to RWR from Front Row Motorsports, where he most recently worked with Zane Smith over the past two seasons in the Truck Series.
Lawson has earned six wins, 35 top-five, 54 top-10s, and two pole awards in 105 Truck Series races as a crew chief. He and Smith teamed to earn the 2022 Truck Series championship together and backed up their title with another playoff appearance last season, with Smith ending the year seventh in points.
Prior to Lawson’s move into the NASCAR national series ranks, he earned two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (now ARCA Menards Series West) titles with Todd Gilliland at Bill McAnally Racing.
Lawson’s lone race to-date as a Cup Series crew chief came with Gilliland last April at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Gilliland survived a myriad of late chaos for a 10th-place finish at the 2.66-mile oval.
Now, Lawson and Haley will team up as Haley seeks his second Cup Series victory, following a rain-shortened triumph at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway in July of 2019.
“Justin is an exceptionally talented racecar driver and all of us at RWR are looking forward to having him in our equipment,” said Ware, whose team celebrated its 20th NASCAR anniversary last year. “We’re building RWR into a competitive NASCAR team that is on par with the success we enjoyed last year in drag racing and motorcycle racing.
“Justin wants to win, Chris Lawson wants to win, and that’s the kind of mindset we need to elevate our NASCAR program.”
In addition to putting two Cup Series entries on track last season, RWR also fielded teams in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Top Fuel category with driver Clay Millican, in Progressive American Flat Track motorcycle competition with rider Briar Bauman, and in the FIM World Supercross Championship with both Shane McElrath and Joey Savatgy.
Millican earned three Top Fuel victories last season, while Bauman collected two American Flat Track triumphs. McElrath previously earned the 2022 World Supercross Championship title with RWR.
Haley, who has won in all three of NASCAR’s national series – the Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the Truck Series – hopes to add his name to RWR’s winning heritage in motorsports.
“RWR has a long history in this sport and a bright future. Working together will only help us achieve what both me and Rick are looking to do,” tipped Haley. “Rick and the RWR guys genuinely believe in my ability on the track and back at the shop, and that means the world to me. This is already a great fit for me as a driver looking to take the next step and improve.
“Having a solid team behind me that truly wants me to be a part of their organization and drive their racecars has given me a lot of confidence.”
The 24-year-old native of Winamac, Ind., boasts four Xfinity Series wins and three Truck Series wins in addition to his Coke Zero Sugar 400 victory at Daytona in the Cup Series. Haley also has five ARCA Menards Series wins and the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (now ARCA West) title on his resume.
He hopes to help Ware rewrite the story of RWR’s longstanding NASCAR operation starting this year, as the team bolsters the pieces it needs to compete at the highest level of the sport.
“Rick has shared his goal of changing the narrative of RWR by creating a team that is competitive and capable of running up front,” Haley said. “I fully believe in Rick’s vision and admire his dedication to the sport. He’s been a staple in the garage for years and I want to be the guy to see Rick’s vision through and make it a reality.”
RWR has competed across NASCAR’s national series since 2004 and made more than 1,300 starts. Haley has been a mainstay in NASCAR since 2015, but this year will mark his third full season at the Cup level.
“There are a lot of factors that will play into our success in 2024. I really see the full year as being broken down into smaller seasons,” Haley explained. “The first few races are great to baseline and see where we are as a team. With a lot of new faces and parts on our cars, it’ll take some time to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. The second stretch of races will be the building phase, where we take what we learned from the first stretch of races and tackle our weaknesses.
“Then in the third stage, we apply those changes and really start to make big strides. That’s where we’ll continue to develop while really starting to make gains and, hopefully, find success.”
Haley and Lawson will begin their Cup Series campaign together with the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. ET in Los Angeles, Calif. The points-paying portion of the Cup Series calendar starts Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET with the 66th Daytona 500 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Both events will be broadcast live on FOX, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
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