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What Does Spire Motorsports Need to Become Contenders?

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Spire Motorsports is one of NASCAR’s up-and-coming race teams, and recent moves made by the race team have shown that they have bigger ambitions. They have two things that many major NASCAR teams have, a major sponsor in Gainbridge and multiple race teams. However, there are a few things that Spire likely needs to do in order to take that next step from lovable underdog to race-win contender.

Start a True Driver Development Program

Spire Motorsports has a sporadic presence in the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but it is not a full-time presence. Many big-name race teams have some presence in the NASCAR Xfinity Series or the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Front Row Motorsports has a Truck Series team. Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have Xfinity Series teams, and JR Motorsports has fed organizations like Hendrick Motorsports for years now.

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Spire has Truck Series and Xfinity Series programs, but neither is full-time. Their Truck Series program has been essentially an all-star car throughout its existence, and their Xfinity Series partnership with Ronnie Bassett has given Carson Hocevar a chance to get some much-needed seat time in the Xfinity Series.

If Spire Motorsports wants to make that jump, then having an Xfinity Series or Truck Series program to develop drivers is big. It allows them to keep young drivers in their ecosystem rather than trying to pry them from other organizations. It would take time to develop it, but they have some of the assets they need for it currently.

However, there is something that Spire Motorsports likely has to do in order to support a new Xfinity Series or Truck Series race team. It is something that is vital to every NASCAR team, the race shop.

Improve Their Shop Space

Spire Motorsports is still a relatively new team, and their shop has an interesting story. It is the shop that once housed Alan Kulwicki’s race team when he won his 1992 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. However, the shop has some shortcomings, and Corey LaJoie discussed the differences between that shop and the shop of Hendrick Motorsports when he filled in for Chase Elliott at Gateway.

“I thought that I knew what we didn’t have at Spire Motorsports, but I had no idea…There’s tools that those guys have, intellectual properties specific to Hendrick Motorsports, that even some of the other teams don’t have.”

Corey LaJoie via NBC Sports

In order for there to be more tools and more people, there likely has to be bigger shop space. There are two ways that Spire can go about doing this.

First off, they could try to build it on their own. Yes, they have a lot of cash on hand with the Gainbridge sponsorship, but is it enough to build an entirely new shop? Race shops are multi-million dollar investments, and they take more than just a few months to build.

Secondly, they could try to purchase shop space from another race team. The issue is, who is realistically selling shop space right now?

Live Fast Motorsports could, but they intend on running more races in 2024. GMS is a race team to watch out for, as they are closing down at season’s end. However, is that shop enough given the fact that GMS ‘ more prominent shop was probably their Cup Series shop when it was Petty/GMS?

Spire is also partnering up with Trackhouse, so could they try to use some of Trackhouse’s space? That would mean Spire would have to remain as a sort-off Trackhouse B-Team, which is probably not what Spire wants.

Another race team to look at potentially is Kyle Busch Motorsports. KBM has been on a downward swing. What was once a three-car team with prominent prospects like Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, and William Byron driving for them now has only two full-time cars with only one full-time driver. Their shop is also quite impressive, but it might take quite a big financial sum considering that Busch may want to keep his team for his son.

Find Another Young Driver to Build Around

Another thing that Corey LaJoie highlighted about working for Hendrick Motorsports is the impact that good teammates have on a race team. That is something that Spire Motorsports has been lacking for a few years.

“I think the fact that they have four incredibly strong teams individually raises the tide for those guys because when you’re sitting in the simulator and William Byron ran a 33.20 (seconds for a lap) … if you’re running a 33.35 with the same setup, you know you have a tenth-and-a-half under your butt and you have to go find it. And then when I go run a 33.20, William next time is going to want to run a 33.19.

Corey LaJoie via NBC Sports

Corey LaJoie is the undisputed number one driver with Spire Motorsports. Ty Dillon has just not been very good this season, and he does not necessarily push LaJoie. However, Zane Smith should help as a young driver to push LaJoie, but Smith is on loan from Trackhouse.

What Spire needs is another young driver to build around. They need someone who will stay with the team for a few years and perform well as they develop other parts of the race team. Carson Hocevar is an obvious candidate as he has already raced with the team, and he has been incredibly impressive in his few starts with Legacy Motor Club.

A young driver gives the team a significant boost, and it gives LaJoie someone to help push himself against. Spire will have at least one of those next year, and when Smith leaves, they can maybe bring in another veteran.

Spire Motorsports is NASCAR’s lovable underdog for the moment, but, they do not want to stay that way for long. There is a lot to look forward to for Spire Motorsports, but there is also a lot that has to happen as they develop.

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