NASCAR’s Spire Motorsports Offers More Security for 2021 Daytona 500 Winner

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Spire Lure’s McDowell with Multi-Year DealJames Gilbert - Getty Images
  • Winner of the 2021 Daytona 500, Michael McDowell is moving from Front Row Motorsports to Spire Motorsports for 2025.

  • Spire, which purchased Kyle Busch Motorsports last year, offered McDowell a multi-year contract.

  • McDowell said he liked the security of a multi-year contract. Front Row Motorsports didn’t counter Spire’s offer.

Michael McDowell understands why many people might consider his move from Front Row Motorsports to Spire Motorsports a lateral one, but that’s not the way the veteran driver views it.

“I know the reality of what makes race teams go and where the performance comes from. I think Spire has all the right tools and people to do more than what I’m currently doing,” said McDowell, who announced Wednesday that he would finish the season with Front Row Motorsports and then move to Spire Motorsports for 2025.


McDowell also admitted Thursday that he liked the security of a multi-year contract. The father of five has been operating with Front Row on a year-to-year contract since joining the team in 2018.

“I didn’t feel like I wanted to continue to go year-to-year like I have,” McDowell said, noting that Front Row Motorsports didn’t make a counteroffer. “That wasn’t a great spot for me or my family to be in, especially with a lot of uncertainty in the sport. I felt like I had put myself in a position by winning races and making the playoffs to be in a more secure spot than that.”

McDowell won the Daytona 500 in 2021 and last year drove to victory on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Grand Prix Course. After a dozen races this year, he had two poles, three top-10 finishes and possessed a 23.8 average finish. He was 26th in the driver standings.

“Motorsports is tough, and you’re never guaranteed tomorrow,” McDowell said. “It’s not a warm and fuzzy, secure sport.”

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Michael McDowell won the Daytona 500 in 2021.Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images

Spire Motorsports President Doug Duchardt said McDowell brings “a lot of intangibles” to the organization. Duchardt cited McDowell’s positive influence on a team, knowing how to build one, and “leadership in the way he handles himself with his teammates.”

In addition to Spire’s three Cup teams, it fields four entries in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series. With Spire’s purchase of Kyle Busch Motorsports last year, it has gone from 40 employees to 130.

Currently, Spire Motorsports possesses three Cup Series charters and has a technical alliance with Hendrick Motorsports. Two of its drivers—Corey LaJoie and Carson Hocevar—are under contract to Spire Motorsports. Zane Smith, who drives the No. 71 Spire entry, is under contract to Trackhouse Racing.

Spire and Trackhouse cut a deal last year that would allow Smith to run 2024 under the Spire banner since that team has three charters, which guarantee a starting position in all of the Cup points races. Smith has some Trackhouse employees on his team even though it’s fielded by Spire.

For 2025, Smith will vacate the No. 71 to drive a third Trackhouse car. Spire will keep its three charters, and Duchardt said the team wanted to resolve early who would go into the No. 71 in 2025.

McDowell’s “tough and challenging” decision means he’s moving from Ford to Chevrolet next year, and he knows there are technical meetings that will exclude him this season as he finishes his tenure with Front Row Motorsports. He believes it’s easier for a driver to navigate the situation because he’s not privy to intellectual property that one OEM doesn’t want another OEM’s crew chiefs and engineers to see.

“You just be respectful of the things that you need to be involved in and respectful of the things you don’t need to be involved in,” McDowell said. “I’m still going to need to give feedback in development on what we need to do to our cars and our setups to be better and be faster.

“I’m probably not going to get all of the information back on what exactly we did, and I understand that. I’m sure there will be meetings where they say, ‘Hey, you gotta leave.’ I’ll walk out and go to lunch with my wife and kids.

“I understand how this business works and I understand why they would have to do that, but I think there’s still a lot of things that won’t put anybody’s information in jeopardy.”