Spire Sports + Entertainment

New NASCAR Cup team owners invest in minor league hockey team

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You might say that the newest NASCAR Cup team owner is now in a Rush.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which recently purchased the Cup charter of former NASCAR championship team Furniture Row Racing, has branched out, taking a minority ownership share in the Rapid City (South Dakota) Rush of the 27-team East Coast Hockey League.

Spire co-founders Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr will become active minority partners in the Rush, hoping to bring the team back to past prominence.

“We aren’t going to be saviors here,” Spire co-founder Jeff Dickerson said in a press conference at the team’s Rushmore Plaza Civic Center home. “There’s no magic bullet. It’s going to take all of us to create the culture that builds excitement and value. The city loves the Rush and we hope to get it back to where it was.”

Rush majority owner, Rapid City businessman Scott Mueller, sees better days ahead for his club.

“The biggest thing is (Spire’s) sports industry knowledge,” Mueller said, according to the Rapid City Journal. “It’s about putting people in seats, selling advertising and they have a lot of knowledge on that. (Dickerson) sees so many venues, and I think he’s going to be involved in changes that are needed.

“We’ve taken some steps in the last few months. These are great days for us, and we’re really excited about our future.”

The Rush is mired in sixth place in the ECHL’s seven-team Mountain Division.

In addition to purchasing Furniture Row Racing’s charter, Spire represents several race car drivers including NASCAR’s Kyle Larson, Landon Cassill, Ross Chastain, Justin Haley, Todd Gilliland, Garrett Smithley and Vinnie Miller and IndyCar’s James Hinchcliffe.

Spire isn’t the only NASCAR Cup team owner involved in other sports. Roush Fenway Racing’s co-owner John Henry owns Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club of soccer’s Premier League, while Chip Ganassi previously was a minority owner in MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Felix Sabates, who also holds a minority ownership stake in Chip Ganassi Racing, is also a minority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

“We have been looking for several years to find something in minor league sports and see if what we do in motorsports translates to this space,” Puchyr said, according to The Journal. “Our due diligence indicates that it does.”

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New owners purchase Furniture Row Racing’s charter

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Spire Sports + Entertainment, an agency that represents drivers and sponsors and works with some NASCAR teams, has purchased Furniture Row Racing’s charter, NBC Sports confirmed Tuesday.

The new team’s car number will be 77. The team will field Chevrolets. Driver, sponsor and an alliance will be announced at a later date.

The team will be co-owned by Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr, among the founders of Spire.

“We think this is the perfect time to buy in,” Dickerson told NBC Sports about why the company was moving into the role of a car owner and purchasing a charter. “Our guys sit in board rooms and tell people how much they believe in the sport. We believe in this sport. We believe in the leadership.”

The Furniture Row Racing charter is the most valuable charter to be sold. Part of the money paid to teams with charters is based off performance the past three years. With a championship and runner-up finish the past two years, the Furniture Row Racing charter will provide more money than any of the previous charters that have been sold. Furniture Row Racing ceased operations after this season.

A NASCAR spokesperson said that the sanctioning body does not reveal the price of charters but NBC Sports has learned that this is the most paid for a charter. The only charter price that has been revealed came from the sale of BK Racing’s charter through bankruptcy court in August. Front Row Motorsports purchased that charter and team equipment for $2.08 million.

There are 36 charters in Cup. A charter team is guaranteed a starting spot each race. To maintain the charter, a team must compete in every race.

This will be the first time for Dickerson and Puchyr to be Cup car owners. They can provide the new ownership that some have questioned for the sport as the current group of owners age.

Spire Sports + Entertainment was founded in 2010. Among the drivers the company represents are: Kyle Larson, James Hinchcliffe, Landon Cassill, Ross Chastain, Todd Gilliland, Justin Haley, Vinnie Miller and Garrett Smithley.

Spire Sports + Entertainment also provides services to Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, GMS Racing and Toyota Racing Development.

 

 

Brett Moffitt wins Truck race at Phoenix, Championship 4 set

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Brett Moffitt took advantage of a late-race restart to win his fifth race of the season and lock into the Championship 4 at Miami.

Moffitt restarted third with four laps remaining as fellow playoff contenders Noah Gragson and Grant Enfinger started on the front row.

Enfinger raced Gragson hard and as the two pushed up the track, that made room for Moffitt to grab the lead.

Gragson held on to finish second.

“On that restart, I spun the tires a little bit in the restart zone and then in (Turns) 1 and 2 I got run up the racetrack.” Gragson told Fox Sports 1 after the race. “I guess I was three-wide. We were beating and banging. That’s what you got to do. I dish it, so I sure as hell got to take it. I respect the 98 for what he did. He’s going for the win; I’m going for the win. But most importantly we’re going to be racing for a championship next week at Homestead.”

Harrison Burton was third, Enfinger fourth and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.

Friesen appeared to have a shot at the victory until he was caught speeding during a pit stop at the end of Stage 2.

With his fourth-place finish, Enfinger was eliminated from the playoffs.

Playoff contender Johnny Sauter, who was already locked into the championship finale, finished seventh.

Matt Crafton finished 11th and failed to advance to the Championship 4.

The race was red flagged on Lap 131 when playoff contender Justin Haley oiled down the track with a blown engine. He was running fifth at the time, but retired in 28th. Haley was already locked into the Championship 4 with his win last week at Texas.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brett Moffitt

STAGE 2 WINNER: Harrison Burton

MORE: Click here for complete results
MORE: Click here for complete points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Derek Kraus finished eighth in his Truck debut. … Christian Eckes scored his third top 10 in his fourth career Truck start; he finished ninth. … In his second career start, Tyler Ankrum survived a spin on Lap 17 and climbed to sixth at the checkers. … Sheldon Creed qualified 16th and advanced to 10th for his first Truck top 10 in six starts.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: John Hunter Nemechek gambled on two tires when the field pitted at the end of Stage 2; he spun with 23 laps to go while trying to hold Enfinger at bay and finished 29th. … Todd Gilliland was involved in an accident with Ankrum on Lap 17 and was never able to rebound; Gilliland finished 17th.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “Sorry guys. All we had. Don’t know what else to tell you,” Enfinger said to his team over the radio after the checkered flag waved.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ford EcoBoost 200 at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Fox Sports 1.

Truck results, point standings after Texas

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Justin Haley inherited the lead from Todd Gilliland on the last lap to win the Truck series race at Texas and lock himself into the championship finale in Miami.

Ben Rhodes (second) and Brett Moffitt (third) were also able to get around the faltering Gilliland.

Gilliland coasted across the finish line in fourth with Austin Hill rounding out the top five.

Click here for complete results

Johnny Sauter maintained the points lead despite sustaining damage in a Stage 2 accident and finishing 11th. He is locked into the playoffs with last week’s Martinsville win.

Justin Haley’s Texas victory locks him into the playoffs. 

Brett Moffitt finished third in the race and was elevated to second in the points. He currently has a 22-point advantage over the cutoff line.

Noah Gragson survived damage in a Lap 42 incident to finish 10th. He sits fourth in the standings, 18 points above the cutoff line.

Grant Enfinger finished 12th and is currently below the cutoff line with one race remaining in the Round of 6.

Matt Crafton finished ninth and is 23 points behind Gragson.

Click here for complete points

Justin Haley wins Truck race at Texas as Todd Gilliland runs out of fuel

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Justin Haley inherited the lead from Todd Gilliland when Gilliland ran out of fuel on the backstretch of the last lap in Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. With the win, Haley locked himself into the championship finale in two weeks in Miami – joining GMS Racing teammate Johnny Sauter.

“I thought we had it lost there,” Haley said in victory lane on Fox Sports 1. “I didn’t quite maximize my pit road. God stuck with me, kept my faith behind me.”

Gilliland led by more than three seconds when he took the white flag.

“Just heartbroken.” Gilliland said in the media center after the race. “Kind of disbelief. You’re half a lap away from your first win.”

Ben Rhodes finished second with Brett Moffitt in third.

Gilliland coasted across the finish line in fourth with Austin Hill rounding out the top five.

The final battle was set up when Gilliland lost the lead to Stewart Friesen shortly before they both pitted on Lap 118. Friesen was caught speeding entering the pits. Once the pit stop cycle ended, Gilliland led by more than three seconds.

Playoff contender Noah Gragson sustained damage on the right side when he was involved in a multi-Truck incident on Lap 42, but was able to climb back to 10th at the checkers.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Haley for his first stage win of his career (under caution)

STAGE 2 WINNER: Myatt Snider for his first stage win of his career (under caution)

MORE: Click here for complete results
MORE: Click here for complete points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Making his first start on a 1.5-mile track, Harrison Burton finished sixth. … Jesse Little finished seventh, one spot off his career-best finish. … Myatt Snider scored the Stage 2 win. He lost track position in the final stage and finished 13th.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Bo LeMastus crashed on Lap 3 while running 16th. He was the first driver to retire in 32nd. … David Gilliland was running in the top five before he slammed the wall. He took the truck straight to the garage and finished 30th. … Cory Roper and Joe Nemechek made contact on Lap 42 and Roper spun up the track, collecting Tyler Young and Johnny Sauter. … Making his fifth Truck start and first on a 1.5-mile track, Sheldon Creed crashed on Lap 60 after leading two laps. He finished 25th.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “Canada and here were two luck wins,” Haley said on Fox Sports 1 from victory lane. “You just can’t give up faith. You bring great trucks to the race track and that’s all you can do.”

WHAT’S NEXT: Lucas Oil 150 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 9 at ISM Raceway on Fox Sports 1.