By Dustin Albino
In late May of 2020, Rick Ware Racing and SS Green Light Racing aligned for the remainder of the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. The two teams will again have an alliance in 2021, this time fielding the No. 17 car.
Originally, RWR announced in November it would run two full-time Xfinity teams in 2021. However, team owner Rick Ware noted in order to maximize the team’s competitiveness across the board, this was the right decision, as it will also field four Cup Series cars, two NTT IndyCar Series teams (in collaboration with Dale Coyne Racing) and an IMSA ride in 2021.
“Originally, we were going to run two [ Xfinity cars], and we thought we were going to be able to acquire some points to be able to have no issues at Daytona [International Speedway],” Ware told Jayski.com. “We’re just trying to make sure everything is done right like it needs to be.”
After the first Xfinity race back from the COVID-19 pandemic in May at Darlington Raceway, Ray Black Jr., who was scheduled to run the full season, departed the team to focus on his family’s business in Florida. That left SS Green Light Racing in a predicament, and team owner Bobby Dotter aligned with Ware in order to finish the season.
“What that allowed us to do is, it allowed us to make sure some of Bobby’s people stayed employed,” Ware said. “It didn’t make sense for us to go hire additional people and let some of his guys go. We’ve got some of his guys and some of our guys and morphing it into the [No.] 17 team.”
This season, SS Green Light will focus primarily on Joe Graf Jr., now running the No. 07 Chevrolet full time. Meanwhile, the No. 17 car will run both Chevrolets and Fords, and will be prepped out of both race shops.
Ware confirmed that the No. 17 car will be a rotation of drivers, including drivers in his Cup stable. Road course ace Cody Ware will run at the Daytona road course, as he’s coming off his first top 10 finish in NASCAR at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL last October. JJ Yeley will be in the car at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the third race of the season. James Davison, Joey Gase and Garrett Smithley will also likely see time in the No. 17 machine.
“I’m going to say the bulk of it will be a rotation of our existing drivers that we have in Cup,” Ware said. “Some of the sponsors we’ve been able to leverage in adding value to where they can package up. [Biohaven Pharmaceuticals’] Nurtec is on a handful of times throughout the season.
“I think it will be a mix of all that. I think we’re going to have a couple of big-name road racers make their debut at some of the road races that Cody has some conflicts in with some of the other teams.”
Dotter is excited for the partnership with RWR.
“This is our second season working together and with the great drivers RWR has, I think it makes for a great alliance,” he said. “The No. 08 has been good to be, but decided to give No. 17 a try for 2021.”
As of now, the No. 17 team does not have a driver settled in for the season opener at Daytona next week.