Teams that have won a Nascar Cup Series race this year: Penske, JGR, Hendrick and Spire.
One of these is not like the other. With Justin Haley’s upset win on Sunday at Daytona, Spire Motorsports suddenly went from an also ran to a top Google search.
So what is Spire Motorsports?
With the Nascar charter system that was installed a few years back, not just any team can attempt to make a Cup Series race. You have to be the owner of a charter to get your car entered.
Spire Motorsports purchased the charter that was available when Furniture Row Racing shut down following the 2018 season. This gave the team a valid charter to be able to enter races this year.
The team’s unexpected win sparked controversy through the racing channels in the hours after the race for several reasons.
- Spire Motorsports isn’t a team that necessarily is doing everything it can to win races.
- Spire Motorsports is an offshoot of Spire Sports and Entertainment, an agency that represents drivers and teams.
To the first point, the argument is being made that the team owns the charter, so it fields a car in the Cup Series races to collect the earnings for whatever place it achieves, and goes home. There is no large investment in the best equipment and talent to actually try to compete for wins and championships at the top level.
While there may be some truth to that, the SuperSpeedways are the ultimate equalizer in the sport. Add to that a rain shortened race scenario, and it’s a recipe for the ultimate upset. And you can’t tell anyone that the crew isn’t trying to get the best finish it can every week. In this particular week, the crew chief made the right decision at the right time to stay out with one to go for the restart. When a bolt of lightning hit within Nascar’s 8-mile radius and the skies opened up after, Spire Motorsports became one of the biggest upset stories in Nascar history.
To the second point, there is no rule that says that an agency can’t also own a team. Should there be? That depends who you ask.
Haley is a client of Spire Sports and Entertainment, which put him in a spot to also drive the car. But again, there is no rule against this, and Haley isn’t exactly an unknown in the sport. He drives full time in the Xfinity Series and finished second at Daytona two days prior to the Cup Series win. He also had a win taken away from him last year at Daytona in Xfinity when it was deemed he made his last-lap pass under the yellow line.
“And hey Daytona, we’re even,” he said on his Twitter post race.
Never lose faith. A absolute blessing to take this small team to VL on the biggest stage in motorsports. Thanks you @FOEGrandAerie & @Spire77. And hey Daytona, we’re even. 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/cYSwEgUv8M
— Justin Haley (@Justin_Haley_) July 7, 2019
No matter how you feel about Sunday’s unexpected result, it certainly has people talking about Nascar today. And this isn’t completely unprecedented. Rain shortened races and pit strategy play into the end result at times – it’s part of the sport’s history. You have to look no further than Chris Buescher’s victory at Pocono in 2016.
How about we all just enjoy the unpredictability of our sport instead of picking it apart.