For the first time in team history, Rick Ware Racing will field three Monster Energy Cup Series cars, albeit in an exhibition setting. B.J. McLeod will drive the #53 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Saturday’s Monster Energy Open preceding the Monster Energy All-Star Race.
The #53 will be sponsored by the military veteran-owned Enlisted Nine Fight Company clothing line. In conjunction with the sponsorship and the Memorial Day weekend the following week, the car will sport a special livery themed after the P-51 Mustangs flown by the famed African-American Tuskegee Airmen‘s 332nd Fighter Group during World War II.
A NASCAR Xfinity Series regular, McLeod has driven six races for Ware in 2019 in the #51 and #52. His best finish to date is nineteenth at the season-opening Daytona 500. In 29 career Cup races since 2015, the 2019 Daytona 500 is his highest run so far.
In the Xfinity Series, he is running the full schedule for JD Motorsports with occasional starts in his B.J. McLeod Motorsports operation; with two top-twenty finishes, he is currently twenty-first in points. With 105 career starts in NASCAR’s second-tier series, McLeod’s best finish is eleventh at Daytona International Speedway in July 2017. He attempted his first and to date Gander Outdoors Truck Series start of 2019 in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Jacob Wallace Racing, but failed to qualify.
#53 has not appeared in an Open since 1992 with John McFadden of Means Racing, who failed to start the race. Assuming the #53 also runs the following week’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, it will be the number’s first Cup points race since the 1994 Pepsi 400 at Daytona with Ritchie Petty. Petty attempted to run the #53 in two races in 1995, but was unable to qualify.
Cody Ware and Bayley Currey will drive the #51 and #52 in the Open, respectively. The two have also split time in Ware’s cars in 2019, with Ware attempting nine races and Currey – a newcomer to the Cup Series – in five. Jeb Burton, Stanton Barrett, and Gray Gaulding have also raced for the team. RWR’s best finish at a non-superspeedway in 2019 is thirty-first on four occasions. The #51, which officially operates under the Petty Ware Racing banner after acquiring a charter from Richard Petty Motorsports, is thirty-fourth in the owners’ points; the #52 is thirty-ninth.
As participants in the Open, the trio must either win a stage in the Open or the Fan Vote in order to compete in the All-Star Race. Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports currently leads the Fan Vote. Other notable entrants include MBM Motorsports fielding two cars – the #46 for Joey Gase and the #66 for Timmy Hill – after doing so for the first time at Kansas Speedway.