NASCAR Cup Series

Ryan Ellis to make Cup return at Kansas, first race since 2016

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Credit: B.J. McLeod Motorsports

For the first time in five years, Ryan Ellis will race in the NASCAR Cup Series. Ellis confirmed Friday that he will drive for Rick Ware Racing in October’s race at Kansas Speedway.

The news was initially revealed on Wednesday in an episode of his and Matt DiBenedetto‘s Not Another Racing Podcast show. Cody Ware, a Cup driver for RWR and close friend of Ellis, was a special co-host for the episode and dropped the news shortly after his segment discussing his IndyCar Series début. In the episode, Ware explains the deal came together as his way of making up to Ellis after the Ware wrecked Ellis on the final lap of June’s Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio.

“Afterwards, you know how horrible I felt—the text messages were gold, the gifs and everything you sent me,” Ware said. “At that point, me and my dad were talking and obviously, he knows how bad I felt. He felt bad for you too. We both know how hard you work and you’re always digging to find sponsorship to get to the race track any chance you get.

“That’s why we’re super stoked to be able to bring you on for the Cup race at Kansas later on this season, to give you another chance and hopefully just let you have some fun and do what you do.”

Ellis quipped in response, “If you crash me in that race in your dad’s car…

“I’m so excited. First off, you guys don’t need to do that. I’ve talked to you and your dad since then. It’s NASCAR. It’s not like you hit me while I was walking on the sidewalk. Like that’d be different, then I’d feel, ‘Yeah, you’d owe me a Cup race.’ But the fact that you guys are doing that is so cool and obviously, I have nothing but respect for you and your dad. I’ve known him since I got into NASCAR.”

Ellis ran five Cup races between 2015 and 2016 for Circle Sport, BK Racing, and Premium Motorsports with a best finish of thirty-second at Indianapolis in 2016; his most recent start was a thirty-eighth at Texas. Due to a lack of sponsorship, Ellis primarily focused on the public relations side, working as a PR representative for DiBenedetto and former Cup team Go Fas Racing. Although GFR expressed plans to continue racing part-time in 2021, funding troubles kept Ellis and the team away from the track.

In the meantime, he works in the marketing business full-time for CBD Manufactured Domestically. Ellis has also made starts in both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series in 2021. He finished thirty-fourth in his lone Truck race of the year at Atlanta, while his best run in three Xfinity starts so far for B.J. McLeod Motorsports is sixteenth at Darlington; his deal with BJMM is for at least six races.

Rick Ware, remarked by Ellis as “probably the richest man in NASCAR”, fields four full-time Cup cars with his son as the primary driver in the #51.

“Rick, Cody, and Lisa are some of the best people you’ll ever meet – also some of the first people I’ve met in this sport and Cody has been like a little brother to me since we’ve met,” Ellis tweeted on Friday. “Very thankful for them doing this – as I said they owed me nothing but are just great people.”

Ellis has never raced at Kansas in the Cup Series. He finished thirty-sixth in his lone Xfinity start there in 2016, while his two Truck races at the track in 2014 and 2016 respectively ended with twenty-eighth and thirtieth-place finishes.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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