Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway will see a NASCAR Cup Series newcomer. On Tuesday, Spire Motorsports announced NTT IndyCar Series and IMSA driver James Davison will make his Cup début in the team’s #77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Davison has seven IndyCar starts to his name, including running the last three Indianapolis 500s. His most recent start in 2019 saw him record a career-best finish of twelfth with Dale Coyne Racing in partnership with Byrd Racing. Byrd and Hayward Motorsports will support Spire for the GEICO 500.
Although he will be racing on an oval in a stock car for the first time, it will not be his first foray into the discipline. From 2016 to 2018, he ran four Xfinity Series road course events at Road America and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for King Autosport and Joe Gibbs Racing. His best finish is fourth at Mid-Ohio in 2017 with the latter. Prior to this, much of his American closed-wheel action came in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, including three Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona starts.
It might seem ambitious for a driver with no stock car oval or Cup experience to debut at the fastest track on the calendar. Making matters even more difficult is NASCAR’s decision to not hold practice before the race as part of its condensed schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, Davison noted in a team release that his “goal will be to ride and survive, run all 500 miles and learn the fine details of restrictor-plate racing.”
The Australian will be the sixth driver to race for Spire in 2020. Ross Chastain, Reed Sorenson, J.J. Yeley, Garrett Smithley, and B.J. McLeod have made at least one starts in the #77, which currently sits thirty-third in the owners’ points.
Despite being formed in 2019 and generally running in the bottom half, Spire already has a superspeedway win under its belt. In that year’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the team scored a surprise rain-shortened victory with Justin Haley.