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Everything You Need to Know About the Zane Smith at Spire Deal

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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In one of the most complex, impactful, and intriguing Silly Season moves, really ever, Zane Smith will drive for Spire Motorsports on loan from Trackhouse Racing after Spire purchased a charter for $40 million from Live Fast Motorsports.

Got it? Well, even if you don’t, we are here to try to explain what this move means to all parties involved.

What It Means for Zane Smith

Zane Smith is now under a multi-year contract with Trackhouse Racing, one of NASCAR’s top race teams. This is huge for Smith after he has spent the last four seasons in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, including winning the series Championship in 2022.

Smith has been awaiting a chance to race at NASCAR’s top level full-time since his first chance was taken away back in 2020. He was in line to race for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 before, ironically enough, Justin Marks bought out Ganassi to form Trackhouse. Things really do come full circle, don’t they?

Now, he will not be racing for Trackhouse yet. He instead will race for Spire Motorsports in 2024. This is not an unprecedented move as drivers like Christopher Bell, Erik Jones, and Ryan Blaney raced for other teams on a loan of sorts before racing with the organizations they were actually under contract with. Bell was with Leavine Family Racing, Jones with Furniture Row Racing, and Ryan Blaney with The Wood Brothers.

This gives Smith an opportunity to learn in a Cup car in a low-pressure situation. He will not be driving Trackhouse equipment with the expectation to win out of the gate. He can drive for Spire, an up-and-coming organization he can have success at.

This is big for Smith, and he has the opportunity to race in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time, and he knows he will be in one of the top cars on the grid in 2025. It is a big opportunity for him, and he is understandably excited.

What does it mean for Trackhouse?

Trackhouse Racing is in a rather wild situation heading into 2024. They have Smith under contract, and they have already committed to building up a third team for him in 2025 that they will build throughout 2024.

However, Trackhouse does not own the charter that Spire has. Spire still owns that charter, so, Trackhouse will have to buy a new charter heading into 2025. That is assuming the charter system stays in place beyond 2025.

The new TV deal means that NASCAR’s economics is about to make a major shift, and one of those differences could be the loss of the charter system. Either Trackhouse needs to build up enough funds to buy a third charter, or hope that the Charter system ends following 2024.

There is also the issue of drivers. Trackhouse has Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, Smith, and now Shane Van Gisbergen on a development deal. Is it possible that they could expand to four cars in 2025 if SVG is ready, or, is someone on the hot seat? That someone very well may be Daniel Suarez given his disappointing 2023 campaign.

Trackhouse continues to be one of the most interesting race teams in NASCAR. They are not building their team in the traditional way, and that should keep them interesting for years to come.

What It Means for Spire Motorsports

Spire Motorsports has quietly become one of NASCAR’s up-and-coming teams. They already re-signed Corey LaJoie to a multi-year extension, and now they have a third car to add to their race team. It is still unclear who will drive that 77 car in 2024, but Carson Hocevar has been the most common name associated with the race team.

It is still possible that Ty Dillon will come back, but, his performance makes that possibility that much more unlikely. However, this is a race team that also may have bigger plans on the horizon. Recently, they signed a deal with Gainbridge to sponsor the race team.

Because of this, and Marco Andretti driving in the Truck Series earlier this year, many are thinking that a deal between Andretti Global and Spire could be in the works. Nothing of substance has been reported on that, but it is at least fun to think about.

Again, Spire owns this third charter, so they will have three race teams for the foreseeable future. If this proved anything, it is that Spire is here and here to stay. They are willing to spend the money, now, can they use that money in the right way to take them from lovable underdogs to race-win contenders?

What It Means for Live Fast.

Live Fast Motorsports, B.J. McLeod, and Matt Tifft can take a fat check to the bank after this. They sold their charter for a whopping $40 million. That was unfathomable just a few years ago.

The race team is not done by any means. Tifft even said that the race team plans to run as a non-chartered entry at select races in 2024.

The money can be used in several different places. It can be used to help upgrade the equipment they currently have. B.J. McLeod can even choose to use some of that money on his Xfinity Series race team.

However, this does open up an interesting conversation about how difficult it is for a start-up race team to succeed in NASCAR anymore. It’s not the same as it once was where just anyone could show up and compete right away. It takes a LOT of money and even some luck to make it in this sport, and it is a cutthroat business.

It is tough to see a race team like Live Fast scale back their operations, but they are not completely gone from the scene. Who knows, maybe they can work their way back up to full-time running sometime in the future. For now, this is a setback, but, it could propel them forward in the future.

Conclusion

This is a pretty wild “Silly Season” move, and it was one that few saw coming before this week came along. Next year, Zane Smith will be racing in the Cup Series, and Spire will be a three-car operation. However, another team is scaling back their operations, so, there is a lot to process with this move.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts