Garrett Smithley will make his return to the Monster Energy Cup Series on Sunday. With Smithley behind the wheel, Spire Motorsports will field the #77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the first time ever in Atlanta Motor Speedway‘s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. While his name has been present on the entry list since Monday, the team did not make a formal announcement until Wednesday, doing so in a tweet.
— Spire Motorsports (@Spire77) February 20, 2019
Smithley currently competes full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JD Motorsports, for whom he began racing in 2016. Last Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway marked his 100th event in the series, during which he finished twenty-fourth. His best points finish is eighteenth in 2016.
During the 2018 season, Smithley made his Cup debut at Michigan International Speedway with StarCom Racing, but retired after one lap with transmission trouble. He made two more starts during the year at Kentucky Speedway and Michigan with StarCom and Premium Motorsports, respectively finishing thirty-sixth and thirty-second.
2019 is Spire’s first season in NASCAR after acquiring Furniture Row Racing‘s charter. In the team’s maiden race at the Daytona 500, Jamie McMurray finished twenty-second in what is possibly his final NASCAR event, driving a #40 in an alliance with Chip Ganassi Racing. Quin Houff will run approximately half the Cup schedule in the #77, while Smithley’s slate with the team beyond Atlanta has not been revealed.
According to a tweet from Fox’s Bob Pockrass, Spire will use Earnhardt-Childress Racing engines.