It's been a rough past two weeks for Rick Ware Racing, as the past two NASCAR Cup Series races at Daytona and Darlington have left the small multi-car team with torn up cars through accidents that several of their drivers were involved in. To make matters worse, the effects of one such accident has left one of their drivers sidelined for the next two races.
On Friday, Rick Ware Racing announced that Cody Ware will miss the next two Cup Series races at Richmond and Bristol due to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, which he suffered during last week's Southern 500 at Darlington. Ware was involved in an accident with teammate James Davison on Lap 48, spinning in the apex of Turns 1 and 2 before blowing a right front tire as he drove back to the front straightaway under caution.
Ware continued after his shredded tire caused damage to the right front of his car, but he fell out of the race on Lap 209 after telling his team that he was "cross-eyed" and "starting to black out." Ware received medical attention at the infield care center, where he remained until after the race.
"Nasty bout of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, doing a lot better thanks to medical," Ware wrote on Sunday night. "Thanks to everyone who checked in on me."
Garrett Smithley will drive the No. 51 Chevrolet in place of Ware in Saturday night's race at Richmond. A substitute driver for Bristol has yet to be determined.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the single biggest health hazards a stock car driver faces, as exposure to exhaust fumes can be toxic for a driver. NASCAR made significant strides towards lessening the chances of driver exposure to carbon monoxide in the 2000s, moving the exhaust exit location away from the driver and switching to unleaded racing fuel. Such changes were prompted after Rick Mast, a veteran journeyman driver, was forced to retire due to a severe case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
While the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning are much lesser now than they were in previous eras, a driver can still be exposed to toxic fumes if the crush panels of their car are damaged -- as they often are when a tire shreds and damages the area near the driver's compartment.
Ware has run most of the season for his family's race team, with a best finish of 21st in the Daytona 500.