Spire buys charter; Trackhouse signs Zane Smith for 2024 Cup ride

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — Trackhouse Racing has signed Zane Smith to a multi-year deal and will have him run in a Cup car in 2024 with Spire Motorsports, which has purchased the charter from Live Fast Motorsport for the effort.

The Athletic reported that Spire purchased the charter for $40 million. The previous high for a charter was $13.5 million that 23XI Racing paid StarCom Racing in November 2021. Terms of Spire's purchase were not disclosed. Live Fast Motorsports stated that it plans to continue in a part-time role in 2024 with a non-chartered car.

Since Trackhouse Racing’s two-car Cup lineup for next year is set with Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez, Smith will be sent to Spire Motorsports to compete in the third car that Spire adds with its new charter. Spire Motorsports currently fields cars for Corey LaJoie and Ty Dillon. LaJoie signed a contract extension in August.

“It just means the world to me,” an emotional Smith said in Saturday’s press conference at Bristol Motor Speedway of being signed by Trackhouse and go Cup racing.

“I almost didn’t have anything a couple of years ago. This is the place I want to be. Three hundred sixty-five days ago, I sat at a Bob Evans with a very close friend and he asked me where I wanted to race one day. I think he expected maybe some different answer. My answer was Trackhouse. Almost 365 days later I signed a contract with them.”

Smith will join the team in January 2024.

“I will do whatever it takes to win on Sunday, and I have that chance thanks to (Trackhouse owner) Justin Marks,” Smith said.

The 24-year-old Smith is the reigning Truck champion. He finished second in the championship in 2020 and ’21. He’s among the final eight drivers in this year’s Truck playoffs.

Smith has nine Truck wins in 89 series starts. He has made seven Cup starts, scoring a career-best 10th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 for Front Row Motorsports.

Smith was developed by Ford, rising through the ranks with its teams. With nowhere to put him in Cup or Xfinity, he will move to Trackhouse Racing and Chevrolet next year.

Trackhouse’s signing of Smith comes three days after the team announced it had signed Shane van Gisbergen to a development deal in 2024. The plan is to have van Gisbergen drive in Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck, ARCA and Late Model races.

Spire Motorsports’ purchase continues its active participation in the charter market.

Spire Motorsports formed after it purchased the charter from Furniture Row Racing in Dec. 2018 for $6 million.

Spire Motorsports purchased the charter and assets from Leavine Family Racing in August 2020 and began fielding a two-car operation in the 2021 season. Spire Motorsports also purchased the charter from JTG Daugherty Racing, which cut back to a single-car team after the 2020 season. Spire leased that charter to Trackhouse Racing so that team could debut in 2021 with the No. 99 car.

Kaulig Racing announced it June 2021 it had purchased two charters from Spire Motorsports to compete in the 2022 season. Those are the charters for the No. 16 and 31 Kaulig cars. That left Spire Motorsports with the charter for the No. 7 team. Spire expanded to a two-car team in 2022 when it purchased a charter from Rick Ware Racing.

Charter sales have slowed because of the uncertainty of the charter’s future. NASCAR’s charter agreement with teams goes through next season. No new deal has been completed and is not expected to be done until after NASCAR’s TV rights deal is completed.

Cup owners skipped a quarterly meeting with NASCAR in April as a sign of displeasure with the progress of their revenue and charter talks. Cup executives remain frustrated at the delay in getting a deal done.