Spire Motorsports made a significant move on October 18 by extending Corey LaJoie‘s contract and adding Ty Dillon to the lineup. These moves, as the team owners explained, are for those that have been discarded.
Co-owner Jeff Dickerson provided thoughts on the matter during a press conference announcing the Cup Series lineup. He explained that Spire Motorsports is an underdog team with something to prove. He also noted that the team is relatively young while some of the other teams have been around for about “40-50 years.”
“Look, I think it’s cliche, but I hope you guys hear it, but I mean, it’s the people,” Dickerson said during the press conference. “I think if you look at everybody here that works here and that’s up here on this panel, I think we’ve all been discarded by somebody, right?
“And I think that — kind of that bond, that desperation — feels like just everybody here has got something to prove. Sometimes I question who we’re trying to prove it to, right, but I think that that desire to be successful or to prove something or somebody wrong binds everybody here.”
Both Drivers Have Bounced Around NASCAR
Dillon and Lajoie, who will both make their 200th start in 2022, have not spent their entire careers with one team. Instead, they have bounced around for various reasons, including teams shutting down.
LaJoie, in particular, spent the first four years of his Cup Series career with BK Racing, TriStar Motorsports, and Go Fas Racing. He and Go Fas parted ways after the 2020 season as the team stopped competing, which led to an opportunity at Spire Motorsports. LaJoie has since found a home in the No. 7 Chevrolet, and he plans on securing his first career win with the team.
Dillon, for comparison, ran part-time Cup Series schedules in 2014-2016 for Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, and Leavine Family Racing. He landed a full-time role with Germain Racing in 2017, and he stuck with the team through the end of the 2020 season.
The situation changed after the COVID-altered year as Germain Racing sold its charter to 23XI Racing. The team exited NASCAR and left Dillon without a seat. He then spent 2021 running a part-time schedule across the three national series before landing what he thought was a new opportunity with Petty GMS Motorsports.
Once again, the situation changed for Dillon. He learned midway through the 2022 season that he would lose his seat. Petty GMS Motorsports later revealed that it would go to Noah Gragson. This news meant that Dillon had to find another opportunity to prove himself, and Spire Motorsports provided him with a landing spot. Now he will join other “discarded” members of the team, who all have chips on their shoulders.
Spire Motorsports Has Made Strides in 2022
The two-car operation is smaller in scale than other Chevrolet teams, and it doesn’t have the same budget as Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, or Trackhouse Racing.
Making moves and contending for wins is not a simple matter for Spire Motorsports, which LaJoie noted during the most recent episode of “Stacking Pennies.” He specifically mentioned how certain teams can’t be true championship contenders without direct OEM support.
That being said, Spire Motorsports has made some positive strides since Justin Haley’s win in the 2019 rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400. LaJoie secured a top-10 finish during the 2021 Daytona 500 before posting an average finish of 24.9 throughout the year.
The veteran driver then returned to Spire Motorsports for the 2022 season, and he turned some heads during some superspeedway races. He finished 14th in the Daytona 500, 14th in the Geico 500, and fifth during the first race at the reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway. He was then in a position to potentially score his first career win during the return to Atlanta, but Chase Elliott blocked him into the wall.