Cody Ware showed up to Talladega Superspeedway on crutches and with a boot on his right foot after discovering he has an impaction fracture to his ankle.
Ware was treated and released from the Texas Motor Speedway infield care center after crashing heavily during last weekend’s race, but the injury was only discovered upon later evaluation.
The Rick Ware Racing driver has been doing physical therapy this week. He is cleared to compete in Sunday’s race and plans to do without hesitation.
“We ended up having an impaction fracture that we didn’t see in the initial X-ray, which happens sometimes with fresh injures,” Ware said on Friday afternoon. “I have that, along with a couple of partial ligament tears… basically got a lot of ankle damage for the most part. But I’ve been real happy with [director of OrthoCarolina Motorsports] Bill Heisel [and] everyone from NASCAR medical [who has] been taking care of me.
“I’ve been going to rehab a couple of hours each day since Monday and have enough progress to where I have plenty of mobility in my foot, and I’m able to get about 100 pounds or so on my right foot. Not enough to walk on it stably but enough of where we were able to get in the car the other day and test out driving and things like that.
“No major issues with that. Obviously, the recovery process to get walking again is going to be longer than expected with the impaction fracture, but I’m just happy to be here and be able to come back racing the next week after a hard hit like that.”
Ware’s No. 51 Ford Mustang snapped to the right after getting loose in Turns 3 and 4. After hitting the outside wall nose-first the throttle hung, making Ware a passenger as his car headed for pit road. It wasn’t until the final few feet that he could steer, fortunately keeping away from the opening in the pit road wall, but the left side of his car still hit the pit stall occupied by Alex Bowman’s team.
Ware climbed from the car on his own before needing medical attention. He was taken on a stretcher to the infield care center, where he was treated for ankle discomfort.
“It sucks to get hurt, but at the end of the day, I took a significant hit, probably one of the larger hits in recent history, and so to be able to walk away from that with just some ankle damage, to walk away with no issues with concussion protocols or things like that, I’m personally happy with that,” Ware said about the safety of the Next Gen car. “Especially to not have to miss a race. It’s a big deal for me to get a full season of Cup under my belt and continue to grow the program with my family race team.
“Obviously, things can always be better, and we want to be a part of the learning process and work together with NASCAR to get things safer and better. That’s what we all want, and I think we can all get together as a team, whether that’s with all the drivers, owners, NASCAR, we can all sit down together and have a meeting to get going in the right direction. I have faith in that, which is why I’m still driving and have the confidence to be here.”
Ware said all the safety aspects of his car worked as they were supposed to in his crash.
“Obviously had to replace the HANS and the helmet, the tethers stretched a little bit which is typical in a big impact,” he said. “Then some of the foam on the front side of my helmet was impacted a little bit. So other than just replacing some things that typically need to be replaced after a big hit, no major issues. No safety issues. Nothing that could have been done any better to protect me more than I already was.”
A left-foot braker, Ware doesn’t anticipate any issues driving Sunday afternoon. He spent time in the car with his team this week to ensure he was comfortable and said the throttle is easier to press than the brake pedal. The team did not have to make any major adjustments to the cockpit for Ware to compensate for his injury.
“Probably going to be a little slow getting in and out of the car, but other than that, once I’m in the car, I feel as good as I would in any other race weekend,” said Ware. “We have a plan with Bill Heisel and the guys from OrthoCarolina to make sure that we have some bracing put in place – I have a bigger right-side shoe that we’re going to put in to put some small casting and bracing in to make sure I don’t have any side-to-side motion.
“All the motion in my ankle and foot is fine laterally, so up and down. We’re trying to mitigate any left to right, which is where all the injury has been done. So as long as we do that, there’s not really any real risk of re-injuring or causing more damage going into this week. Just like [Alex] Bowman said yesterday, we all want to put our health as a priority, and I don’t feel like I’m putting myself in jeopardy by racing this weekend. If I did, I would be joining Bowman and sitting out a couple of races until things were right.”
Ware has no plans for a standby driver, as he reiterated how confident he is in competing.
“I’m just as excited about this as if I would be if I wasn’t injured after coming off my first top 10 at Daytona,” he said. “I want to go repeat and go for the same this weekend.”