NASCAR team takes no chances by making huge $40 million move

Live Fast Motorsports sold their charter to Spire Motorsports one year before they would have potentially run the risk of NASCAR repossessing it.
B.J. McLeod, Live Fast Motorsports, NASCAR
B.J. McLeod, Live Fast Motorsports, NASCAR / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

NASCAR very well could have repossessed one of Rick Ware Racing's two charters after the 2023 season, given the fact that the No. 15 team finished in the bottom three of the owner standings (among the 36 charter teams) in each of the last three seasons.

While it is theoretically the No. 51 team's current charter which is the one that has finished in the bottom three for three straight years, since that charter was actually the one used for the No. 15 team in 2021 and 2022, NASCAR still could have repossessed it.

When the charter system was implemented, it contained this very performance clause so that backmarker teams did not get complacent and still strived to improve each year. This was also a way of ensuring that there were no "start and park" teams among full-time entrants.

NASCAR opted not to repossess the team's charter, though they could end up revisiting that decision at the end of the year, not just because the No. 15 team could finish outside of the top 33 for the fourth straight year but because the No. 51 team could also finish outside of the top 33 for the third.

One NASCAR Cup Series team wasn't willing to take that chance

In addition to the Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin-owned 23XI Racing and the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned Trackhouse Racing Team, the B.J McLeod and Matt Tifft-owned Live Fast Motorsports team also entered the Cup Series back in 2021.

The team finished in 31st place in the owner standings (among charter teams; 32nd overall) in their first season in the sport, well safe from being in the bottom three. But in both 2022 and 2023, they finished in last, and they were really nowhere near the next closest team (both times a Rick Ware Racing team).

There was very little reason for optimism entering the 2024 season. So instead of leaving anything to chance following another potential (and likely) 36th place finish, they sold the charter that they had used to run the No. 78 Chevrolet for a reportedly record-breaking $40 million total to Spire Motorsports, which now own three charters.

Live Fast Motorsports still plan to compete in select races throughout the 2024 season, including the Daytona 500 with McLeod behind the wheel of the No. 78 Chevrolet.

Spire Motorsports, whose teams finished in 26th and 33rd place in the 2023 owner standings, are set to run the No. 71 Chevrolet in addition to the No. 7 Chevrolet and No. 77 Chevrolet in 2024.

Corey LaJoie is set to return for a fourth season behind the wheel of the No. 7 Chevrolet, rookie Carson Hocevar is set to replace Ty Dillon behind the wheel of the No. 77 Chevrolet, and rookie Zane Smith is set to join the team on loan from Trackhouse Racing Team to drive the No. 71 Chevrolet.

It is worth noting that the only two teams to finish behind the No. 77 team (aside from Live Fast Motorsports) were Rick Ware Racing teams, so Live Fast Motorsports no longer being in the mix could potentially make it tougher for Spire Motorsports to keep all three teams inside the top 33.

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Nevertheless, they have demonstrated that they are making clear strides to improve, something NASCAR cited when opting not to repossess one of Rick Ware Racing's charters.