Spire Motorsports expands to 2 cars with Leavine purchase

The growing sports empire — which bought the Carolina Hurricanes’ ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, in the spring — has used 12 different drivers in 58 races during its time in the Cup Series

Reed Sorenson, pictured last weekend at Michigan, is one of seven different drivers to drive the Spire Motorsports’ No. 74 in the NASCAR Cup Series this season. Spire announced Tuesday they are adding a second team for the 2021 season. (Paul Sancya / AP Photo)

Spire Motorsports said Tuesday it has purchased the NASCAR charter and assets of Leavine Family Racing, which is closing its team at the end of this season.

The purchase of the No. 95 from Bob Leavine gives Spire a second guaranteed spot in Cup Series races, the Leavine race shop and all inventory owned by that organization. Leavine is currently in a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, so all its current cars will be returned to Gibbs at the end of the year.

Spire will expand to two cars in 2021 and operate out of the Leavine race shop in Concord. Spire has made 58 Cup starts using more than a dozen different drivers. The team did not announce who will drive its cars next season or which manufacturer it will join.

“This is an exciting moment for Spire as we take the natural next step in our long-term plan to build our race team,” said Spire Motorsports co-owner Jeff Dickerson.

Spire is owned by Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr, two industry veterans who have moved from driver and sponsor representation into team ownership. The team scored a victory in its first season when Justin Haley was a surprise winner at Daytona in July 2019. In May, Dickerson and Puchyr joined other investors to buy a majority stake in the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits, the South Carolina-based minor league team affiliated with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

Spire got into the Cup Series by purchasing a charter from Furniture Row Racing when that team closed at the end of the 2018. Both Furniture Row and Leavine were partners with Gibbs, and the organizations both chose to fold when operating costs became too burdensome.

Leavine had hoped the introduction of the Next Gen car in 2021 would cut costs and allow him to stay in business, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the new car until 2022. Dickerson believes Spire can still successfully build a two-car operation.

“These are no doubt trying times, but I have never been prouder to be part of this sport,” Dickerson said. “NASCAR has managed several difficult situations this spring and into the summer. We believe in the ownership model that NASCAR has built and where this sport is going now more than ever.”