Justin Haley, Driver of the No. 51 Pinnacle Home Improvements Ford Mustang Dark Horse

● Justin Haley returns to North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway for the 2024 non-points All-Star Weekend looking for redemption after his performance in last year’s All-Star Open was cut short. Haley qualified fifth for last years Open – the 100-lap qualifying race that precedes the All-Star Race – and ran inside the top-three until just prior to a lap-40 competition caution. He restarted inside the top-five and remained there until another caution on lap 49 gave him the opportunity to restart on the outside of the front row with 43 laps remaining. Haley was fighting Josh Berry for the lead on lap 58 when contact with the No. 34 of Michael McDowell sent Haley into the outside wall. His race ended on lap 59, along with his chance to compete for the $1 million top prize in the All-Star Race.

● Haley has made four runs in the All-Star Open from 2020 to 2023. His best finish in the non-points race was third, earned in the 2022 event held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

● Haley is fresh off his best finish in the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing (RWR) Ford Mustang Dark Horse, a ninth-place effort last Sunday at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. He spent 94 laps of the 293 race laps running inside the top-15, just the second time this season he spent more than 90 laps of a race inside the top-15. It also was the first time this season the end result matched the pace exhibited by his RWR machine. Haley’s 123 green-flag passes were the most of any other driver as he tooks advantage of a Ford Mustang Dark Horse that proved capable of slicing through traffic.

● Through the first 13 points-paying races this season, Haley has recorded six lead-lap finishes for the No. 51 team this season, putting him just one away from tying the team’s single-season, single-driver record for lead-lap finishes in the NASCAR Cup Series. Josh Bilicki (2021), Cody Ware (2022), and JJ Yeley (2023) all have recorded seven lead-lap finishes in a single season for RWR.

● Should the momentum of the effort at Darlington not be enough to carry the No. 51 team into the All-Star Race as one of the top-two finishers in the Open, Haley has made his case for the All-Star Fan Vote through a series of campaign videos – and #HaleYES, he’ll continue to do so right up until the green flag waves to start the Open on Sunday.

● Pinnacle Home Improvements makes its debut on the No. 51 RWR machine this weekend. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, Pinnacle is a direct-to-homeowner provider of home improvement services, with a focus on roof replacement, window replacement and other exterior services for existing single-family homes. With additional offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville, Tennessee, as well as Charlotte, North Carolina, the company’s existing service footprint covers a range of attractive Southeast U.S. markets, with planned expansion into new Southeastern markets.

Kaz Grala, Driver of the No. 15 Remixers.com Ford Mustang Dark Horse

● RWR driver Kaz Grala will pilot the No. 15 Remixers.com Ford Dark Horse Mustang in his first career outing at North Wilkesboro. Though Grala has yet to experience an All-Star weekend and the excitement surrounding a race with nothing but a $1 million top prize and bragging rights on the line, he’s a short-track racer who cut his teeth on tracks like North Wilkesboro on his path to the Cup Series.

● Like his teammate Justin Haley, Grala heads into the All-Star weekend with a team full of confidence after his role last weekend in the RWR organization’s best overall race performance. In last weekend’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington, Grala earned his third top-20 finish in 11 starts this year and made 112 green-flag passes, tied for fourth-most of all drivers in the field, en route to his 18th-place result.

● Prior to Sunday at Darlington, RWR had recorded a previous best non-drafting-track finish of 16th in the 2023 Coca-Cola 600 with JJ Yeley. The team’s previous best finish at Darlington was a 19th by Cody Ware in 2022, which both Haley and Grala bested on Sunday.

Rick Ware Racing Notes

● While the RWR Cup Series teams make their respective runs at the All-Star Race, the Progressive American Flat Track (AFT) tour will race on the West Coast as Mission SuperTwins rider Briar Bauman and AFT Singles riders Kody Kopp and Shayne Texter-Bauman take on Silver Dollar Raceway in Chico, California. Bauman earned his first win of the season last weekend at his home track in Ventura, California, and sits fourth in the standings, just 19-points back of first. Kopp looks to get back on the podium after finishing fourth in last weekend’s main event, though he still holds a 14-point lead in the championship.

● NHRA Top Fuel driver Clay Millican returns to the site of his first-ever NHRA Top Fuel event this weekend, which is also an event he won in 2018 and 2023. The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series takes on Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, where just last year the RWR driver ended a five-year winless streak. Millican’s appearance in the final round at zMax Dragway in Charlotte put the RWR team back on track after a tough start to the 2024 season. Millican will have a chance to double up on wins this weekend as he’ll also compete in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. Following five events in the 21-race season, Millican sits eighth in the Top Fuel standings.

● Rick Ware has been a motorsports mainstay for more than 40 years. It began at age six when the third-generation racer began his driving career and has since spanned four wheels and two wheels on both asphalt and dirt. Competing in the SCCA Trans Am Series and other road-racing divisions led Ware to NASCAR in the early 1980s, where he finished third in his NASCAR debut – the 1983 Warner W. Hodgdon 300 NASCAR Grand American race at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. More than a decade later, injuries would force Ware out of the driver seat and into fulltime team ownership. In 1995, Rick Ware Racing was formed, and with wife Lisa by his side, Ware has since built his eponymous organization into an entity that fields two fulltime entries in the NASCAR Cup Series while simultaneously campaigning successful teams in the Top Fuel class of the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, Progressive American Flat Track and FIM World Supercross Championship (WSX), where RWR won the 2022 SX2 championship with rider Shane McElrath.

Justin Haley, Driver Q&A

Does last weekend’s performance at Darlington give you any extra confidence that you can race your way into the All-Star Race?

“Of course. At Kansas, we were right on the cusp of a top-10 before the caution came out and we took four tires instead of two. That was a difficult call there, but the past few weeks I feel like we’ve had top-10 speed or at least top-15 compared to the field throughout the race. The No. 15 Ford Mustang Dark Horse has been quick in the race – maybe not in qualifying – but we’ve brought really good racecars and we’re kind of following RFK and what they’re doing. Leaning on them has been beneficial. I’m super proud of everyone at Rick Ware Racing. I feel like we’ve got a good shot this weekend, so we’ll just try to do our best and go from there.”

There are a lot of quality drivers and teams in the Open. What would it mean to get the fan vote if you don’t race your way in?

“Obviously, it would be cool. I looked at the Open yesterday and didn’t realize there are more cars in the Open this year than there are in the All-Star Race. It’s definitely a competitive field and a lot of big names. We just have to go out and bring our best performance. It’s definitely gonna be a little tricky this year with the repave and things like that, and tire selection, but we’re just going to have to keep working forward. I’m not trying to rely on the fan vote, I don’t think anyone is, but it would definitely be cool to win that.”

Kaz Grala, Driver Q&A

This will be your first chance getting to race at North Wilkesboro. Are you excited to get laps on a track that holds so much history for the sport?

“I can’t wait to go check out North Wilkesboro for the first time. I wish I could have raced on the old surface there last year, but even with the repave the track has so much history and significance within NASCAR. It has a unique shape with asymmetrical corners and looks like it will be a blast to race at. It reminds me a little bit of South Boston Speedway, where I raced Late Models for years. RWR’s been very strong lately and we’re coming off a great weekend at Darlington, so while we are still major underdogs for All-Star weekend, I wouldn’t count us out. We’re going to give it all we’ve got.”

There are no points on the line this weekend, you’re just racing for a spot in the All-Star Race to be able to claim $1 million. How aggressive do you think drivers will be while fighting for those two spots?

“I think the aggression will be a balance this weekend. We should be able to push each other a bit harder than usual just because the pressure of transferring into the All-Star Race is high, but as a rookie I’m still in the process of earning the respect of the Cup Series competitors, as well. I’ll definitely be willing to move cars out of the way when the time is right, but there will have to be an art to it.”