Spire Motorsports was formed in 2018 after they purchased a charter from Furniture Row Racing. They began racing full-time in 2019 with the #77 being driven by a rotation of drivers. The highlight of the year was the team’s first and only win in NASCAR in the July Daytona event won by Justin Haley. In 2021, Spire expanded to a two car operation purchasing another charter from the now defunct Leavine Family Racing. In 2022, they announced they would run a part-time truck series entry, with a rotation of NASCAR Cup Series drivers and future stars. They pulled off a truck win at Martinsville with William Byron earlier this season. Now with two full-time entries and a truck series entry, Spire was looking to expand to two full-time drivers in the Cup Series. So, who will make up their 2023 lineup? They announced their plans earlier this week.
NASCAR CUP SERIES
Corey Lajoie – 7
Lajoie is returning to drive the 7 Chevy and continues to be the “franchise” driver at Spire Motorsports. Lajoie statistically has had his worst season with the team in ‘22. He is 31st in drivers points and with Kurt Busch being out for the remainder of the season, Lajoie will likely finish in the Top 30. Lajoie is finishing up his 7th season in the Cup Series and still hasn’t finished higher than 29th in points, (2019, 2021). While he has shown speed on some super-speedway style tracks with the highlight of the year being his showings at Atlanta. Lajoie acquired the best finish of his career earlier this season with a 5th place finish in the first Atlanta race and in the second Atlanta race, he was leading on the final lap. If Lajoie is going to get a win next season, it will be at the new Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, the win won’t matter, if he doesn’t stay within the Top 30 in points.
In his two previous seasons for Spire Motorsports, Lajoie has only 1 Top 5 and 2 Top 10s. Lajoie is one of the faces of NASCAR right now for his podcast on NASCAR.com “Stacking Pennies.” The weekly podcast is a favorite across the motorsports community and features weekly interviews from some of NASCAR’s greats. He also has been followed by USA’s NASCAR show “Race for the Championship.” Even though Lajoie is a face of NASCAR currently, if he has another disappointing season in 2023, the pennies may be knocked over, and the 7 could find a new driver.
Ty Dillon – 77
Ty Dillon has signed with Spire Motorsports. Predictable after he was replaced by Noah Gragson at Petty GMS. So, what has Dillon done to earn his new ride? He ran Full-time in the Cup Series from 2017-2020 with Germain Racing which was an affiliate of RCR. He scored two Top 5s and six Top 10s across his four seasons with the team. He was let go by Germain Racing at the end of the 2021 season as they were selling their charter to 23XI Racing. Dillon, grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, was expected to find a ride for the 2021 season. However, he ended up only running part-time for Gaunt Brothers Racing, a backmarker. He mostly ran in the Xfinity Series running for Joe Gibbs Racing, Our Motorsports and Jordan Anderson Racing.
After his 2021 ventures, he announced he would sign with GMS Racing to drive the 94 in the NASCAR Cup Series. GMS Racing had plans on moving up to the Cup Series in 2021 and Dillon was set to be their debut driver. However, before he could even make a start with the team, GMS Racing formed with Richard Petty Motorsports to form Petty GMS Motorsports. This gave Ty Dillon a much better situation. He is now part of a two car team, and was paired with a teammate for the first time in his Cup Series career. He also gets to drive for Richard Petty in a Richard Petty 42. Sure, this is mostly GMS, but the Petty Blue is more iconic than the GMS orange.
This season for Ty Dillon got off to a rocky start when he took out everyone but the pace car at the LA Coliseum. He spun a lot of drivers out and angered a lot of fans. In the 2022 season so far his best finish was 10th at the Bristol Dirt Race. At this point in time Dillon is 28th in points, which is better than his future teammate Corey Lajoie. But, when you compare his results to his teammate Erik Jones, it's night and day. Jones this season has 3 Top 5s, 13 Top 10s and a win in the Southern 500. It's the same equipment and Jones is pu tting that equipment in winning position and even contending for a playoff spot, which he narrowly missed.
Dillon will be replaced by Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson in 2023. He now is starting to be a journeyman driver. Next season will be Ty’s 6th season competing in the Cup Series full-time. Dillon most likely will not make the playoffs in 2023. However, I need to see better finishes from him, if he wants to continue to race for the Cup title.
Nothing has been announced regarding the Spire Motorsports 7 truck. This past season has been a success for Spire in the Truck Series. In 10 starts so far in 2022, the Spire 7 Truck has 3 Top 10s and a win at Martinsville.
Who could drive this 7 truck? If they are planning on a full-time driver, I would snag Rajah Curuth. This past season in ARCA, Curuth finished 3rd in points for Rev Racing. He had 8 Top 5s and 14 Top 10s. While he wasn’t able to find victory lane in 2022, Curuth is expected to move up to the Xfinity or Truck Series in 2023. Since he made starts for the team in 2022, Spire should be seen as one of the top teams that Curuth will be a part of. In 4 of the 10 races in which the 7 was entered, a Cup Series Hendrick Motorsports driver was entered. Like Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman. Spire could look to be the Hendrick affiliate for the Truck Series similar to how Kyle Busch Motorsports was the affiliate for TRD over the past decade.
What’s Next for Spire?
Spire Motorsports at this point needs to focus on a playoff berth. I also believe that whoever is finishing better through the first five races of the season, should get Spire’s main attention. Also, If they should strengthen their partnership with other Chevy teams (Hendrick, Trackhouse, etc.), Spire should be in a must win situation or they will continue to be a backmarker for the coming future.
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