Corey LaJoie on track at the Charlotte ROVAL in 2023. (HHP/Chris Owens)

Spire Motorsports Emerging As ‘Legitimate’ Cup Series Threat

Spire Motorsports is quickly becoming a legitimate threat in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Corey LaJoie, who has driven for Spire since 2021, is one of a select few who have had a front-row seat to the team’s latest growth spurt. 

Since last September, team co-owners Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr purchased Live Fast Motorsports’ Cup Series charter and acquired Kyle Busch Motorsports, along with the 77,000-square-foot KBM and Rowdy Manufacturing facility. 

They formed an alliance with Trackhouse Racing, which resulted in some added support from Chevrolet, and expanded to a three-car operation. 

They also hired Doug Duchardt, former Chip Ganassi Racing COO, as Spire’s new president. 

“It’s a totally different race team,” LaJoie said. “The transition of the shop, and the shop is one thing, right? But the Gainbridge relationship, the new teammates, the added engineering, the more help from GM and Hendrick Engines and Hendrick pit crews — it’s not even remotely the same team.” 

Compared to the last three years, where Spire’s prime intention has been to put cars on the race track and purely finish races, LaJoie has seen a massive turnaround take place in recent months. 

Though he is once again the senior driver at Spire in the No. 7 Chevrolet, Cup Series rookies Carson Hocevar (No. 77) and Zane Smith (No. 71) have also joined the fold.

Corey LaJoie. (HHP/Harold Hinson)

Smith is technically a Trackhouse Racing driver, but competes for Spire as part of the alliance between the two Cup Series teams. 

Altogether, the laundry list of changes taking place within the walls of the North Carolina-based operation have helped establish Spire as “a legitimate race team.” 

At least, that’s how LaJoie sees it — and he’s basically been there since the beginning.

“I was at the dry erase board with the Expo marker trying to figure out how to get to this point. So rarely does it work out where a vision where T.J. (Puchyr) or someone like that has grandiose visions come to life. It’s pretty cool to be a part of that,” LaJoie described. 

The third-generation racer linked up with Spire before they even owned cars or a race shop. Prior to 2020, when LaJoie signed with the organization, Spire operated under an alliance with Premium Motorsports. 

Now, as Spire comes into its own with multiple cars, a mammoth-sized facility and a leadership team that is brimming with confidence, LaJoie believes they are in a position to make a playoff run. 

Last year, the No. 7 team achieved its goal of finishing top 25 in points. 

“Taking a step in this garage isn’t like 10 places. It isn’t like going from a 25th place team to a Championship Four team overnight — that is not how it works. A tangible step forward might be one spot, two spots, because now there are 24 factory teams essentially between Toyotas, and Fords and Chevrolet,” LaJoie explained.

“Those are key partner teams. So, for us to be in that 20th to 16th playoff team on points, you are beating eight teams that are fully funded, fully resourced, and we are still on the outside looking in when it comes to key partner information.”

However, LaJoie believes Spire will continue to overachieve despite their disadvantage when it comes to the resources other teams have at their disposal. 

Spire essentially proved it’s on an upward trend last year, with LaJoie improving his average finish from 24.3 (2022) to 20.8 (2023). He also earned two top fives and one additional top 10.  

“It may not be noticeable to any of you guys in here, but we are going to be better in the amount of top fives we have, in the amount of top 10s we have. There is not a measurable amount, but there is going to be more,” LaJoie said. 

He admits that setting out for the playoffs may still be a lofty goal for Spire, but LaJoie, Duchart and Dickerson together believe that proper execution can and will lead to a playoff berth. 

“The bar for this year, for our team, is the playoffs,” LaJoie said simply. “If we can get close to that, it would make a lot of guys — myself included — really happy. I have matured as a driver behind the wheel as well as off, and I think it will be a dogfight. 

“It will be an absolute dogfight, but I think if we execute for the next 20 weeks, 24 weeks, I think we can be in the conversation.”