As Cody Ware kicks off his seventh NASCAR Cup Series season, he does so remaining focused on honing his racecraft and his mental health.
The 26-year-old Greensboro, North Carolina native remains transparent with his efforts in raising attention toward optimizing mental health, documenting his experiences and sharing his story with NASCAR.com’s Zack Albert in an article from May 13, 2021.
While racing is an outlet for Ware, he shared some candid thoughts when asked about sharing his experiences with mental health awareness.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Ware said in a Daytona 500 media availability. “Obviously, I get a lot of enjoyment and happiness out of getting to share that and hopefully help others in the process, but there’s also been a little bit of backlash here and there.”
In this case, as Albert wrote in his NASCAR.com feature about Ware, some linked Ware’s mental health battles with the angst that’s commonplace with Martinsville, short track racing.
Likewise, Ware acknowledged the plights with being open about his mental health journey.
“People like to make comments like, ‘Should you be out there? Is it even safe?’” he observed. “And I think that, for me, it’s something where it’s worth the potential risks involved with it because mental health is such a major problem in this country and the world as a whole.”
Despite some of the heat that Ware endured following last spring’s Martinsville race, he remains true to the course with eliminating the stigmas with mental health illnesses.
In fact, he considered some of the common stressors that catalyzed the discussions for ending the stigmas not only for himself but others walking in his shoes.
“I think with COVID and the quarantine and things in the year’s past really highlighted how many people really deal with things like that,” Ware shared. “So the first step to kind of ending that stigma is if you’re somebody that has a platform to be able to open up about it and talk about it and show people that they’re not alone, that’s the most important thing about all that.”
Ware, who races for his family owned Rick Ware Racing efforts, continues to speak for those facing struggles with their mental health, understanding how it can make a difference for others.
Of course, Ware makes a difference too as one of the cordial, passionate racers in Cup. Facing an uphill battle against the juggernaut teams, Ware and his family recently made progress by forming an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Racing starting this year.
With the switch the Ford Mustang for Ware’s No. 51 ride and the team’s stable, there’s hope yet that the North Carolinian and his team can progress further up the Cup ladder as a competitive organization.
Logging four top-25 finishes in his past 55 Cup starts, including a 21st in last year’s Daytona 500, Ware looks forward to racing in the Next Gen car.
“It’s really cool,” he said. “I think that NASCAR and all the manufacturers knocked it out of the park. I think the new Mustang, Chevys and Toyotas all look really good.”
Some of that cool, Next Gen car strength was evident when Ware placed fourth in the first Last Chance Qualifier at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last Sunday, just one spot short of transferring into the Busch Light Clash.
Nevertheless, with the Daytona 500 approaching quickly on Sunday, Feb. 20, at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, there’s one other important aspect to consider for Ware and his on track cohorts.
Ultimately, in this case, Ware and his peers will race the new, Next Gen stock car. After the dress rehearsal at the LA Memorial Coliseum, Ware points out how the Next Gen car may reinvigorate the car culture with younger, newer fans in the U.S. and around the world.
“Obviously, moving towards independent rear suspension and things that you see on street cars, moving away from a lot of the antiquated stuff like solid rear axle and things like that I think definitely for the younger and newer crowd that’s gonna be watching these NASCAR races,” he said. “(It) is gonna actually give them something to relate to and latch onto as we get these cars into the modern era.”