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Steve Letarte to crew chief No. 7 Spire Motorsports team at Miami; COVID-19 protocols sideline Sparks

Steve Letarte will be back atop the pit box for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), as he will call the shots for the No. 7 Spire Motorsports team and driver Corey LaJoie.

Letarte will be the crew chief for Sunday’s race since Ryan Sparks will be sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols. Sparks will be unavailable to participate in the race and will not travel to Homestead-Miami Speedway. In addition, two other crew members of the No. 7 team will be inactive this weekend in accordance with the same protocols.

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Letarte, who currently works as an analyst for NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage, is also a consultant for Spire — a role he took on prior to 2021. He was last atop the pit box in 2014 when he was the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports. Letarte stepped away from the pit box at the end of the season to join the broadcast booth with NBC — a position he has held ever since.

During his 10 years with Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon, Letarte won 15 races — 10 with Gordon and five with Earnhardt.

Prior to the season, LaJoie was asked about Letarte joining the organization and said: “That guy’s just an awesome personality, but I probably didn’t give him enough credit — and I was probably a bit young when he was crew chiefing for Jeff and crew chiefing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. That guy is one of the smartest guys that I’ve ever met, and he’s also infectious and he’s just a guy that gets you pepped up.”

Sunday’s race will mark LaJoie’s third start in the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet. LaJoie has one top 10 on the season through two races — a ninth-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500.

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