Cody Ware says Indy 500 option discussed as he aims to build credibility in multiple series

Cody Ware Indy 500
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Now that he (literally) is a fit in the NTT IndyCar Series, Cody Ware is exploring a partial schedule (and possibly the Indy 500) with Dale Coyne Racing while also running full time in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Though his son’s ambitious IndyCar-NASCAR schedule has yet to be finalized, team owner Rick Ware confirmed Wednesday in an IndyCar-hosted Zoom news conference that Cody Ware would be part of Rick Ware Racing’s new full-season partnership with Coyne, whose team has four oval races open in a ride primarily driven by Romain Grosjean. DCR also will field a third Dallara-Honda in select events, including the Indy 500.

Asked by NBCSports.com’s Dustin Long if he had considered becoming the fifth driver to attempt the Indy 500-Coca-Cola 600 doubleheader (joining John Andretti, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch), Ware said there were “definitely been some very brief discussions on things like that.

“Logistically, I don’t have a private plane or helicopter,” he said during a NASCAR-hosted Zoom news conference Thursday. “Money is the biggest factor on going down that road. My only options would be commercial (flights) or unless I found a sponsor to pay for a private plane or helicopter. There might be one or two IndyCar races that I partake where I have to miss out on a Cup race because I don’t have the funds of a Kurt Busch to jet set where I need. It’s just part of the struggles we have. I’ll take advantage of doing a little bit of everything and see how it plays out.”

Cody Ware said he spent two weeks visiting Coyne’s shop in Plainfield, Illinois, to ensure he could fold his 6-4 frame into the cockpit (“it’s a tight fit; I don’t have as much padding as I’d like, but I feel comfortable”), perhaps for an eventual run at the Brickyard. If he were to make his Indy 500 debut, Ware said he might not be that interested in departing Indianapolis Motor Speedway so quickly.

“It would be an amazing experience,” Ware, 25, said. “The Indy 500 is something I’ve never dreamed of racing being 6-foot-4. I never thought I could sit in a single-seater car, let alone go racing. I might want to soak it in and spend time looking at the pagoda and being in Indianapolis. Because from a money and physical perspective, I never thought IndyCar would ever be on a bucket list of things I’d go racing.”

AUTO: JAN 23 Roar Before the Rolex 24
The No. 51 RWR-Eurasia Ligier LMP2 of Cody Ware, Salih Yoluc, Austin Dillon, and Sven Muller finished 10th in the Rolex 24 at Daytona (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Ware made his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series debut with the Rolex 24 at Daytona last month, finishing 10th overall (fourth in class) in the RWR/Eurasia LMP2 entry that included 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon (who wanted more road-course experience for his No. 3 Chevrolet in Cup).

As an amateur-rated driver in the LMP2 AM division of the Asian Le Mans Series, Ware finished first in the points standings for the four-race 2019-20 season, earning class victories in Australia and Malaysia.

He took part in an open IndyCar test two weeks ago at Sebring International Raceway that “went really well … probably the most fun I’ve had driving a race car.” Ware said he posted lap times on par with IndyCar’s 2021 rookie field (which includes Jimmie Johnson).

The team has yet to address its schedule for Ware with NTT IndyCar Series officials. Once that step is taken, the series would set up a process for Ware to be approved on road and street courses (in addition to Sebring, the series likely will have another preseason test that could allow for further evaluation).

In order to race ovals, Ware also would need to complete a speedway program starting on a smaller oval (such as Texas). To race in the Indy 500, he would need to complete IMS’ Rookie Orientation Program that is mandatory for new Indy 500 drivers.

“The big thing is everyone who knows me knows I love road racing,” Ware said of IndyCar’s appeal. “As much as I love IMSA, there are a lot of variables in co-drivers. IndyCar is me, myself and I. don’t have to worry about a co-driver wrecking a car. I do good, that’s on me. I do bad, that’s on me.”

Ware said his experience in a high-downforce prototype helped prepare him for how an IndyCar handles, and he also used his sports car knowledge to help Dillon during a session with the Dallara simulator in Indianapolis ahead of the Rolex 24.

“Working with Austin Dillon at the Rolex 24 was a major boost to my credibility,” Ware said. “He learned a lot from me, I learned a lot from him on the stock car side. I was able to get him running pretty awesome on the sports car side. That will help with my credibility and respect in NASCAR. People are starting to see now I have a lot more seat time, particularly on road courses, than people realize.

“It’s a time thing, have to earn respect. You can’t get on social media and just say, ‘This is what I’ve done.’ ”

Ware has 51 starts across NASCAR’s Cup, Xfinity and truck series with a career-high 13 races at the premier level in 2019. His best Cup finish was a 19th in his most recent start (Oct. 4 at Talladega Superspeedway).

While the move to full-time Cup will present some schedule conflicts, Ware said the team is looking hard at the IndyCar doubleheader race weekend June 12-13 at Belle Isle Raceway. That is the weekend of the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“We might call it a wash in NASCAR,” he said. “With Texas not being a points race, I could focus on the IndyCar program and not miss a proper points race.”

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)