Spire Motorsports Enjoy Illinois 300 Race Advance

Spire Motorsports

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

  • Zane Smith will make his second NASCAR Cup Series start at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis on Sunday but his first driving the No. 71 Ambetter Health Chevrolet Camaro for Spire Motorsports.
  • The race marks the rookie driver’s 15th Cup Series start for Spire Motorsports and his 24th career start.
  • In 2022, Smith made his Cup Series debut at 1.25-mile oval, driving the No. 17 RFK Racing entry. He started 32nd and finished 17th, earning his first top 20 in NASCAR’s premier division. 
  • Smith owns five NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series (NCTS) career starts at the track, including a win in 2020. He’s led 112 laps and posted three top-10 finishes at WWTR. 
  • This will be Smith’s second race driving the Ambetter Health paint scheme. Ambetter Health is on a mission to get everyone affordable, high-quality health insurance. Our drive to break down barriers and help make insurance more accessible to all has made us America’s No. 1 Marketplace health insurance. Learn more about how we are paving the way to better coverage at ambetterhealth.com.

Going back to Gateway this weekend, it will be your first race back since you made your Cup Series debut here in 2022. How are you feeling?
“It’s so crazy to look back on that day and see where I’m at now, two years later. That was the craziest 24- plus hours I had ever experienced. Gateway will always be special to me because of that. It was my first ever Cup Series start and it’s exciting to go back this weekend for the first time since I made that start in the No. 17. That day opened a lot of doors for me and allowed me to learn. I had a lot of fun in the process. I got a Truck win in 2020 and have had some success at that track. So, I’m looking forward to racing there this weekend with my No. 71 Spire Motorsports team and seeing what we can accomplish.”

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

  • Carson Hocevar will return to the home of his first NCS start this weekend in Sunday afternoon’s Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWTR driving the No. 77 Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.
  • Hocevar started 20th and finished 21st in last Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • Hocevar made his NCS debut in last year’s Enjoy Illinois 300 where he finished 36th while subbing for Corey LaJoie. Hocevar was fast throughout the day but a mechanical issue sidelined him on Lap 91 while running just outside the top 15.
  • In four NCTS starts at the 1.25-mile oval, Hocevar has logged a 9.5 average start and a 12.8 average finish. He led eight laps and completed 99.8 percent of the laps contested.
  • Zeigler Automotive Group is one of the largest privately-owned dealer groups in the U.S. with 84 franchises across 41 locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Vehicle brands represented include all the domestic and the majority of the imported manufacturers. Founded in 1975, the organization employs over 2,500 people, ranking among the top one percent of automotive dealers in the nation with estimated annual sales of $2.2 billion for 2023. The family-owned and -operated company is well known for its commitment to both customer service and employee satisfaction. Zeigler is regularly recognized as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the Nation, also earning similar accolades in Wisconsin, Chicago, and Michigan. Besides these prestigious accolades, Zeigler is also one of Glassdoor’s 100 Best Places to Work in the U.S. for 2024, and among Glassdoor’s top 10 U.S. companies for work-life balance.
  • The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender is currently 24th in the division’s championship points. Over the course of the season’s first 14 races, Hocevar has notched one top-10 and three top-15 finishes. 
  • Hocevar is featured on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET following each race to discuss his NCS rookie season

Carson Hocevar Quotes 
WWT is home to your first Cup race. How are you feeling about this weekend to head back there after your series debut last season? 
“I’m pretty excited, honestly. We ran really good last year in the No. 7 so I’m excited to go in the No. 77 this time with my team. We’re a great team so far and I’m excited to have those notes along with what we’ve learned this year to make our car better. A year difference means a lot so, hopefully, we’re much better, we make the right adjustments and right tweaks and can make our car better throughout the race.”

WWT is such a unique track. You’ve put in a lot of time in the sim this week leading up, so how is your mindset going into this race?   
“You can’t take a lot of set-up info from any other tracks for WWTR. We’ve put a lot of time in this week to really get everything as perfect as we want it, because we don’t have notebooks as long as some other teams. I have very smart people I trust around me so that eases my mind and I know we can run good this weekend.”

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

  • Corey LaJoie heads to World Wide Technology Raceway behind the wheel of the No. 7 Chili’s® Grill & Bar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. 
  • Chili’s is a leader in the casual dining industry and the flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT). Chili’s is known for its big mouth burgers, Chicken Crispers®, full-on sizzling fajitas and hand-shaken margaritas. Chili’s takes its food seriously – but not themselves – because dining out should feel like a celebration even if there is nothing to celebrate. Chili’s passion is making everyone feel special, and every day, ChiliHeads make it their job to spread #ChilisLove across almost 1,600 restaurants in 27 countries and two territories. And Chili’s cares. Chili’s hosts local Give Back Events to support kids, education and hunger and has raised more than $100 million benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through generous Guest donations. Find more information about Chili’s at chilis.com, follow on Twitter or Instagram, like them on Facebook or join Chili’s on TikTok.
  • Sunday’s Enjoy Ilinois 300 will mark LaJoie’s third NCS start at World Wide Technology Raceway and 251st career start.
  • LaJoie has two previous NCS starts at the uniquely-configured Madison, Ill., oval. and earned a venue-best 21st-place finish last season when he filled in for Hendrick Motorsports behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet.
  • Lajoie started 21st and finished 35th in last weekend’s rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Concord, N.C., native has led 38 laps in 2024 and is currently 30th in the NCS championship point standings.
  • Over 250 career NCS starts, Lajoie has earned four top-five and nine top-10 finishes and led 161 laps in NASCAR’s premier division.

Corey LaJoie Quotes
The NASCAR Cup Series schedule is long and can be filled with a lot of ups and downs. How do you distance yourself from a disappointing weekend and get ready for the race ahead with a fresh set of eyes?
“After a disappointing result last weekend, we’re ready to move on to World Wide Technology Raceway in our Chili’s Camaro. Last year was definitely a non-traditional one, subbing for Chase in the No. 9 car, so I’m excited to get back to St. Louis in my familiar seat and execute the weekend like we know we can.”

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