ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Cody Shane Ware successfully passed the rookie orientation program required to run the Indianapolis 500 but his father said he needs sponsorship to get him into the race.
Rick Ware, who fields four cars in NASCAR's top Cup Series, this year partnered with Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar. Rick Ware Racing supports Coyne all season on the No. 51 shared by Romain Grosjean and Pietro Fittipaldi, but also a partial-season entry No. 52 that will attempt to qualify for the Indy 500.
Cody Ware was expected to be the driver of the No. 52 but his father told The Associated Press on Sunday he's going to need to find additional sponsorship if his son is to make his IndyCar debut in the Indy 500. The 25-year-old has so far tested at both Indianapolis and Texas Motor Speedway.
"It went really well. He got up to speed very quickly in all the segments of rookie orientation," Rick Ware said. "We're excited about it but I don't know that we're going to have the funding to put it together for him for the 500. I'm working really hard on that but I don't know for we're going to be able to do that."
The No. 52 will still enter the Indy 500 but the seat could be filled by a driver who brings sponsorship money. The car is also expected to run other IndyCar races later this season that Cody Ware could drive.
If Cody Ware doesn't get the Indy 500, he can't return to his regular NASCAR job. Garrett Smithley has already been announced as driver for the No. 51 that Ware typically drives for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway that begins hours after the Indy 500.
Rick Ware said his son would be limited to only NASCAR's Xfinity Series race at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend if Indy 500 funding does not come through. If he can find some sponsorship to get him close to a deal, Rick Ware said he'd be willing to fill the gap out of pocket because it is his son.
Cody Ware finished 28th on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Rick Ware Racing is an underfunded NASCAR team trying to both build a competitive program and expand throughout motorsports.