EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s Spire Motorsports preview continues a countdown of team previews for the 2023 Cup season from NASCAR.com, ranked in reverse order of best finish in last year’s owner standings.
the creator: Chevrolet
engine: Hendrick Motorsports
Coupling between driver and crew chief: Corey Lajoie-Ryan Sparks (No. 7), Ty Dillon, Kevin Bellecourt (No. 77)
Team view: Chasing its first win since 2019 (Justin Haley), Spire Motorsports has a huge advantage next season that it hasn’t had in its short history at the Cup Series level — consistency. LaJoie returns for another season, mirrored by newly minted Ty Dillon in the No. 77, a ride previously rotated by a mix of drivers annually. Having two full-time drivers with 402 Series Series starts between them should get the team ready to perform even stronger this time around.
Each of a driver’s finishes in the final points standings last season isn’t necessarily indicative of where he’s been able to run most weeks. One weakness was race finishes, 17 DNF’s combined in 2022, with eight for LaJoie and 9 for Dillon while driving for the Legacy Motor Club (formerly Petty GMS).
If they can settle into next-generation Camaros a bit more this season, one or two trips to Victory Lane wouldn’t be out of the question. LaJoie nearly grabbed his first win a year ago by putting in a stellar showing at the summer Atlanta Motor Speedway, and both drivers go into the season with a lot to prove.
Corey LaJoie, no. 7 Chevrolet
expertise: Six full-time seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Statistics for 2022: 31 in the final standings; 0 wins, 1 top 5, 1 top 10
2023 Championship Odds (BetMGM): 1000-1
prospects: LaJoie was one lap away from a massive win last season in Atlanta, where he got stuck in a battle with eventual race winner Chase Elliott after ingenious strategy had the No. 7 running 19 laps up front. But his day ended with a dented race car and another missed opportunity. One big moment in which LaJoie and company should be more focused than ever in the 2023 season. In 200 races at the top level, LaJoie has only had one top-five and five top-10s – a stat he has the best talent in a single campaign if The cards fell correctly. In addition to his individual talent, LaJoie and crew chief Ryan Sparks have made great strides every year together, posting LaJoie’s best career finishing average (24.3) before a season. If they can avoid DNFs, LaJoie is a dark horse contender who wins at breakneck speed and possibly earns his first appearance in the Cup Series playoffs.
more: More info about LaJoie on “Stacking Pennies”
Ty Dillon, no. 77 Chevrolet
expertise: Five full-time seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Statistics for 2022: 29th place in the final standings. 0 wins, 0 top five, 1 top 10
2023 Championship Odds (BetMGM): 750-1
prospects: Having spent his last two full-time seasons at the Cup Series level with various teams (Germain Racing and Legacy MC), Dillon will be out proving he can be a building block for organizations seeking wins and championships. Dillon’s younger brother has never won at a premier series level, but he’s mostly been a mainstay since his first full season in 2017. His experience should be a positive addition to a team headed in the right direction. Dillon provides stability riding No. 77 and can form a connection with experienced crew chief Kevin Bellecourt. Dillon’s 22.6 finishing average in 202 starts will be a good measure of him this season. If he can hit the sub-20 mark, Dillon could be contending for the top five finishes or even wins in two races all season.
Related: Open tournament possibilities | Schedule 2023
NASCAR.com 2023 Team Previews Schedule
January 23: Unchartered and teams outside the Top 30
January 24: Spire Motorsports
25 January: Wood Brothers Race
January 26: JTG Daugherty Racing
January 27: Front Row Motorsports
January 30: College Racing
January 31: RFK Racing
February 1: Legacy Motor Club
February 2: Richard Childress Racing
February 7: 23XI Racing
February 8: Stewart-Haas Racing
February 9: Joe Gibbs Racing
February 10: Hendrick Motorsports
February 13: track racing
February 14: Penske Team