In the last three years, we have seen two NASCAR Cup Series teams fold. One of them is arguably the most competitive team in the sport with championship-winning abilities in Furniture Row Motorsports. The other being an up and coming team in Leavine Family Racing, who announced they would be folding at the end of the 2020 season.
Both teams cited the inability to keep up with the financial demand of a NASCAR Cup team. Each was also in a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing which also attributed to their financial woes as keeping up with the chassis and equipment that JGR sold to them was extremely pricey.
The last thing they each have in common is that after their closings, they were then bought by the same buyer, Spire Motorsports. They are owned by Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr. The two seem dedicated to building their team into a competitive club, hence why they’re buying up any team and charter they can get their hands on.
Most of the upscale equipment will return the JGR at the end of the season which leaves the team in the same competitive position they’re currently in. More than likely they’ll continue to be a back of the pack team.
However, in an interview, Jeff Dickerson stated that he is prepared to stick it out until 2022 when the next-gen car that has all the hype of being more financially affordable for teams. This new car is theorized to aid smaller teams in building their programs and keep competitive teams in prosperous positions to remain in the sport for the long haul.
Along with the purchase of LFR’s facilities in Concord, NC. Spire also acquired their charter which will allow them to field a second team in 2021. No driver decisions have been made, or even if the team will rely on one driver in each car for the entire season. The team has spent the last two seasons going through 15 different drivers.
Most notably the team has fielded cars for Justin Haley and Ross Chastain, both of which gave them their best finishes of 1st at Daytona for Haley and 17th at Indianapolis for Chastain. Yes, if you don’t remember, Justin Haley won a rain-shortened Daytona 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400. So, the team has found more success then a lot of bottom feeders in the Cup series.
Justin Haley and Ross Chastain are two names to keep an eye on for the rides next year. Neither driver is locked into a contract for next season and with drivers like Erik Jones, Chase Briscoe, and Austin Cindric all looking for rides next season there is little chance that big-name teams will be looking at these two.
It was expected that Chastain would be the front runner for the #42-car next season, but with the rumors that CGR is courting drivers like Bubba Wallace, it might not be a done deal.
If Haley and Chastain’s options remain scarce, jumping to a possibly ascending Spire Motorsports could be worth the gamble. Haley is talented but overshadowed by drivers with development contract and Chastain is reaching an age where younger drivers will continue to jump over him for rides.
Spire Motorsports needs to pick up where LFR left off and find two talented drivers that will stick with them through the rough period. They could find themselves sticking around for a long period in the sport, especially if they find a way to join a technical alliance. Hopefully, JGR’s rates get better for other small teams to be able to afford their services without going out of business.