Spire Motorsports Busch Light Clash Race Advance

Busch Light Clash – Spire Motorsports Race Advance
Every February since 1979, the annual pre-season NASCAR Cup Series showcase was hosted by Daytona International Speedway. In September 2021, NASCAR announced it would move the race from the 2.5-mile Daytona Beach superspeedway to a purpose-built, quarter-mile oval, constructed inside the iconic home of the University of Southern California Trojans football team. The 2024 installment will mark the third consecutive year NASCAR has hosted the race at the iconic downtown Los Angeles venue.

How the Clash Works:

  • Heat Race Starting Lineup – The field will be spilt into (3) practice groups, with each group receiving (3) sessions. Each competitor’s fastest lap time from their final practice session will determine the starting lineup for the heat races.
  • Heat Races – Four heat races of 25 laps each with only green flag laps counted – no overtime in play. The top five from each heat race advance through to The Clash.
  • Last Chance Qualifier – Cars that do not transfer to The Clash will compete in the Last Chance Qualifier Race with their starting position determined by where they finished in their respective heat races. The LCQ race is 75 laps with only green flag laps counted – no overtime in play. The top two finishers in the LCQ will transfer to The Clash
  • Feature – The main event will feature 23 drivers competing for 150 laps with only green lag laps counted – the race must end under green. A timed break will be observed at the halfway point of the race (Lap 75).
  • Lineup: The first 22 starting spots for The Clash is set through finishing positions in the heat races and the LCQ. The 23rd and final starting spot is reserved for the driver who finished the highest in the 2023 season driver points standings who did not already transfer into The Clash.
  • Practice and heat races for NASCAR’s annual pre-season exhibition race will be televised live on FS1 Saturday, February 3 beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). The first of four qualifying races will take the green flag at 8:30 p.m. EST.
  • FOX’s live television coverage of the last chance qualifying race, followed by the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will take the green flag Sunday, February 4 beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST. NASCAR’s third visit to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – home of the 2028 Summer Olympic Games – will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90).

Corey LaJoie – Driver, No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

  • Corey LaJoie and Spire Motorsports will jump start the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season with an added boost from CELSIUS, the premium lifestyle energy drink formulated to power active lifestyles with ESSENTIAL ENERGYTM.
  • Celsius Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: CELH), is a global consumer packaged goods company with a proprietary, clinically proven formula for its master brand CELSIUS®. A lifestyle energy drink born in fitness and a pioneer in the rapidly growing energy category. CELSIUS® offers proprietary, functional, essential energy formulas clinically-proven to offer significant health benefits to its users. CELSIUS® is backed by six university studies that were published in peer-reviewed journals validating the unique benefits CELSIUS® provides. For more information, please visit: https://www.celsius.com/
  • The 2024 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will mark LaJoie’s third attempt at NASCAR’s pre-season speed contest at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
  • While LaJoie and his Ryan Sparks-led team struggled in the 2022 and 2023 editions of the Busch Light Clash, a strong run at Martinsville Speedway last fall and post-season testing at Phoenix Raceway proved to make a difference for the group’s short-track package.
  • LaJoie is coming off his best season to date in NASCAR’s premier division. In 2023, the Concord, N.C. native earned two top-five and three top-10 finishes en route to a career-best top-25 finish in NCS points.

Corey LaJoie on the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum:
It has to be great to kick off 2024 with Celsius.
“I’m thrilled to kick off another race season with Celsius. I’m confident we can bring a car that drives well and has some speed this year. I think restructuring how we attack The Clash, in terms of vehicle dynamics, is going to be a plus. We’ve had a couple good SIM sessions and worked really hard during the off season to be racing for a chance to bring our Celsius Camaro to Victory Lane in 2024.”

What does it take to make a car go fast around a football field?
“It needs to have a lot of mechanical grip. Obviously, you’re not going very fast so aerodynamics don’t really come into play. Your car has to build a lot of grip. It has to be able to turn and have some forward drive. You have to have a little luck, too, with traffic and the way qualifying is. There’s going to be cars on the track with you. You’ll have guys who are cutting off laps and guys who are sandbagging a little bit. That could screw up what could have been your best lap. There’s only going to be a couple hundredths between qualifying on the pole or qualifying 20th, so we want to make sure we’re on the front end of that. We’ll need a good starting spot for the heat race and play some defense to make sure we’re in but you need a good starting spot for the feature, too. I think your weekend, from the first time you hit the track, every lap is important at a race like this.”

What do you need to do, technique-wise, to run well at the Busch Light Clash?
“You’re never at the limit of the tire. It’s hard, because it’s hard to get heat in the tires and build it up gradually because you’re always on the verge of locking the tire up. Braking capability is what you’re trying to maximize. You’re trying to get in the corner hard and firm without locking the left-front tire up. You might be able to get to wide open with the throttle, but the braking technique, trying to get a good feel for the left front just before it locks up is what you’re looking for.”

Zane Smith – Driver, No. 71 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

  • Sunday marks Zane Smith’s first appearance with Spire Motorsports. He will compete for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year.
  • Smith will drive for Spire Motorsports as part of an alliance with Trackhouse Racing. In September, Trackhouse Racing announced a multi-year driving agreement with Smith and its aim to operate three full-time NASCAR Cup Series entries in 2025.
  • Smith joins Corey LaJoie and Carson Hocevar as Spire drivers in 2024.
  • Focused Health makes its NASCAR debut with Smith and the No. 71 team on Sunday. Focused Health assists consumers and employers in navigating the myriad of health insurance options in the government programs space.
  • Smith is a nine-time NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race winner and the 2022 series’ champion who competed in four full seasons.
  • Smith ran nine Cup races over the last two seasons, highlighted by a 10th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May of 2023. He retains his rookie of the year eligibility in 2024.
  • Smith married McCall Gaulding, the younger sister of fellow race-car driver Gray Gaulding. The couple tied the knot Jan. 11 in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Sunday will also mark the debut of Stephen Doran as a full-time NCS crew chief. The Pennsylvania native worked as an engineer on Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 4 team in 2023.

Zane Smith on the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum:
Are you ready for the Busch Light Clash?
“The off-season was fun, but I am so ready to race. I have watched the Clash on television and it’s way cool to get to be in it this year.”
How excited are you for the opportunity to race full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series?
“It has been pretty surreal. The day that we announced I was signing with Trackhouse Racing at Bristol, was truly a dream come true. I think every kid that wants to make it in racing, wants to see Sunday. To have the opportunity that I have and to have a foreseeable future in front of me is everything I ever wanted.”

How big of a jump is it from the Truck Series to the Cup Series?
“I feel that the truck actually raced very similar to the Cup car in some situations. The Cup car is kind of on its own planet. Everyone races really hard. I have an extremely good group around me for this year.”

Do you set goals?
“I want the graph arrow to be pointing up come the end of the year. That’s my goal. I have full intentions of going into every race weekend giving 110 percent and a full mindset of going in to win the race.”

Carson Hocevar – Driver, No.77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

  • Delaware Life makes its debut as the primary sponsor aboard Carson Hocevar’s No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro in the Busch Light Clash this weekend and will continue in that capacity for multiple races in 2024.
  • Delaware Life has made its mission to deliver pure value to its network of financial professionals with a set of tools and products that help them empower their clients to plan for retirement with confidence. Delaware Life’s focus is delivering a seamless experience that gives clients exactly what they’re looking for: the comfort of understanding, the confidence of transparency, and streamlined products without needless features. Learn more at www.delawarelife.com
  • Carson Hocevar made his NCS debut last season at World Wide Technology Raceway, filling in for Corey LaJoie in Spire Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro. He competed in eight of the final 10 races in 2023 in the No. 42 entry for Legacy Motor Club (Legacy M.C.) notching five top-20 finishes, including a career/series best 11th-place finish in the Bass Pro Shops night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
  • After gaining valuable experience in NASCAR’s premier division last season, Hocevar officially enters the 2024 NCS rookie class, vying for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors alongside Spire Motorsports teammate Zane Smith.
  • NASCAR’s 2024 pre-season exhibition marks Hocevar’s first attempt to qualify for the Busch Light Clash.
  • Hocevar will be the youngest NCS regular on the track this season. He celebrated his 21st birthday on January 28th.
  • Hocevar collected four NCTS wins during three full seasons driving for Niece Motorsports. The newly minted 21-year-old earned 21 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes, while leading 600 laps. The Portage, Mich., native finished fourth in the final NCTS championship point standings.
  • Luke Lambert will serve as Hocevar’s crew chief for the 2024 season. The veteran NASCAR topkick comes to Spire Motorsports from LEGACY MOTOR CLUB.

Carson Hocevar on the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum:
You raced nine cup races last year, how are you channeling the lessons learned to elevate your performance not just this season, but right out of the gate this weekend?
“I’m very excited to get going with Luke (Lambert) and Spire. Honestly just looking forward to going racing this season. We’ve had a very productive off season – new shop, new people, new cars. I’m excited to see our work in the off season come to fruition at The Clash.”
What do you think about the unique characteristics of The Clash track and how will the atmosphere influence your approach?
“My approach isn’t a lot different; I am looking at it like it’s still a Cup race with Cup cars. We’ve prepared like it’s a points race so I’m excited to get there and see how we do as a team.”

What would you consider a successful season for you in 2024?
“I don’t have a lot of goals week in and week out, I just want us to be the best as a group as we can between communication, working on the cars and improving each week. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

From the Top of the Box

Ryan Sparks – Crew Chief, No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Ryan Sparks serves in a dual role as both Spire Motorsports competition director and crew chief for driver Corey LaJoie and the No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Sparks, a Winston-Salem, N.C., native, has been paired with LaJoie since 2020.
Combined, Sparks and LaJoie have earned three top-five and six top-10 finishes, including a pair of top fours in 2023.

Stephen Doran – Crew Chief, No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Stephen Doran begins his first full season as a Cup Series Crew Chief leading Zane Smith and the No. 71 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet team during the 2024 season.
In 2006, Doran got his start in NASCAR at Petty Enterprises.
Since 2012, he has worked at Stewart-Haas Racing as an engineer most recently on the No. 4 car driven by Kevin Harvick.

Luke Lambert – Crew Chief, No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Luke Lambert is the crew chief for Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 team with 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year candidate Carson Hocevar
The 2005 North Carolina State graduate has led the competition efforts for some of the sport’s most notable names including Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler and Chris Buescher.
In 2014, Lambert led Newman to a berth in the Championship 4, and ultimately a runner-up finish in the NCS championship point standings.

Team Roster
No. 7 Celsius Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports
Crew Chief: Ryan Sparks, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Spotter: T.J. Bell, Reno, Nev.
Car Chief: Scott Brewer, Huntersville, N.C.
Engine Tuner: Bob Dodge, Columbia Station, Ohio
Lead Engineer: Roy Gangdal, Vancouver, B.C.
Engineer: Adam Sturgill, Commercial Point, Ohio
Engineer/Tires: Zachary Braun, Slinger, Wis.
Mechanic: Brandon Cavitch, Petoskey, Mich.
Mechanic: Ira Gibson, Higbee, Mo.
Race Transporter Driver: Chad Frederick, Pottsville, Pa.
Co Race Transporter: Driver: Anthony Garatti, Petaluma, Calif.

No. 71 Focused Health Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports
Crew Chief: Stephen Doran, Butler, Pennsylvania
Spotter: Josh Williams, Martinsville, Virginia
Car Chief: Nick Defazio, Orange, California
Engine Tuner: Bob Dodge, Columbia Station, Ohio
Lead Engineer: Chais Eliason, Duluth, Minnesota
Engineer: Matthew Murphy, Greenville, North Carolina
Engineer/Tires: Austin Greco, Harrisburg, North Carolina
Front End Mechanic: Clint Leatherwood, Rockmart, Georgia
Rear End Mechanic: Trevor Jones, Montgomery, New Jersey
Race Transporter Driver: Chris Avery, Cove City, North Carolina

No. 77 Delaware Life Chevrolet Camaro
Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports
Crew Chief: Luke Lambert, Mount Airy, N.C.
Spotter: Tyler Green, Owensboro, Ky.
Car Chief: Dan Brzozowski, Chicago, Ill.
Engine Tuner: Austin Trebilcock, Tucson, Ariz.
Lead Engineer: Garrett Paterson, Sacramento, Calif.
Engineer: Nick Sowa, Middletown, Conn,
Tire Specialist/Interior Specialist: Jack Kelley, Bowling Green, Ky.
Mechanic: C.J. Wilson, Elmira, N.Y.
Mechanic: Peter Sospenzo, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mechanic: Carson Poindexter, Huntersville, N.C.
Race Transporter Driver: David Brandon, Lancaster, Calif.
Co Race Transporter Driver: Daniel Rosensteel, Greenville, S.C.

About Spire Motorsports …
Spire Motorsports is a NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race team co-owned by long-time NASCAR industry executives Jeff Dickerson and Thaddeus “T.J.” Puchyr. In 2024, Spire Motorsports will campaign the Nos. 7, 71 and 77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1s in the NASCAR Cup Series with drivers Corey LaJoie, Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar, respectively. The team will also field the No. 77 Chevrolet Silverado full time in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series with driver Chase Purdy.

Spire Motorsports earned its inaugural NASCAR Cup Series victory in its first full season of competition when Justin Haley took the checkered flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2019. Less than three years later, William Byron drove Spire Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado to its inaugural NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series win on April 7, 2022, at Martinsville Speedway. The team’s most recent win came on May 20, 2023, when Kyle Larson took the checkered flag in the Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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