Garrett Smithley returning to Ware with expanded Cup slate

by Justin Nguyen

Garrett Smithley is back in the NASCAR Cup Series. On Tuesday, Rick Ware Racing announced the Peachtree City, Georgia native has returned to the team for an “expanded schedule” in the Cup Series starting with Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“The time is now to increase my Cup Series schedule,” Smithley stated. “It’s important to get as much seat time in the Cup Series as NASCAR transitions to the next generation car. Also, the Cup Series offers my marketing partners additional exposure.”

Smithley lost his NASCAR Xfinity Series ride with JD Motorsports after 2019, with whom he finished nineteenth in points. During the year, he also ran fourteen Cup races for Ware, Spire Motorsports, and Premium Motorsports; his best finish was twenty-eighth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in RWR’s #52. In 2018, he made his Cup début with StarCom Racing, running two races for the team before moving to Premium for a third.

In 132 career Xfinity races since 2015, the majority of which came with JD, he has four top tens, including a fifth-place run at Daytona International Speedway in 2018.

Specific races with RWR have not been revealed, though he will be in the #51 Ford Mustang for the Pennzoil 400 with sponsorship from Victory Lane Quick Oil Change and Trophy Tractor. His lone Cup start at Las Vegas was a thirty-fifth in 2018. At the Xfinity level, his best finish at the track is eighteenth on two occasions in 2018 and 2019.

“Garrett is a fantastic young race car driver and an even better young man,” Rick Ware added. “We’re thrilled to support him and give him a platform to continue his growth on and off the track.”

J.J. Yeley and Joey Gase will serve as Smithley’s team-mates in Vegas in the #52 and #53, respectively. Both drivers joined the team for full-time schedules in 2020, while Xfinity Series team owner and veteran B.J. McLeod will also spend time with the team.

RWR entered four cars during the 2020 season-opening Daytona 500. Although Yeley failed to qualify for the race in non-chartered #54, Gase finished twenty-third in the #51 and McLeod finished thirty-eighth in the #52. David Ragan, who retired from full-time Cup competition after 2019, drove the #36 to a fourth-place finish for the team’s maiden top-five finish.

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