Motorsport.com spoke one-on-one with the rising star.
Pretty in pink was the way to go in the ARCA Series race in October at Kansas Speedway. Taking the high line on the final restart of the day with three laps to go, one driver sailed to the lead and showed no signs of looking back. Nothing could stop him from strolling into Victory Lane for the first time in his career.
That is what happened to Spencer Gallagher, 25. The Las Vegas native did not start racing until he was 12, and never thought he had a future in racing until 2009, when a dream became a reality.
Coming in late
“I’ve been doing this since 2009,” Gallagher told Motorsport.com. “This is just my sixth year of racing in an oval of any kind. I’m up against kids that have been racing since they were four. There’s a bit of an experience gap, and that’s what usually shocks people when they meet me.”
That win at Kansas was the lone triumph of Gallagher's ARCA career, that dates back to 2011.
2015 has seen plenty of changes for Gallagher, and his family-owned GMS Racing team. After making a splash in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in nine starts last year, he has moved full-time in the No. 23 Chevrolet.
At Daytona, we had some real serious speed, but we unfortunately got caught up in the big one. Before that, we were pushing my teammate Ty Dillon to the lead
Gallagher on 2015 season
Through three races, he has recorded an average finish of 16th. But that does not show how strong GMS Racing has been.
Jeff Stankiewicz, who has been on top of the pit box for 67 Truck Series races since 2011, was named Gallagher’s crew chief over the off-season. Paired with Joey Coulter in 2014, Stankiewicz developed a friendship with Gallagher, which has carried over to their speed early into the fresh season.
Lack of luck early in 2015
“We’re getting along great,” said Gallagher. “Jeff had an existing relationship with us at GMS. He was with Joey Coulter last year, and we took to each other pretty immediately. I’m really enjoying working with him and I look forward to the rest of the year and spending it with him.
“At Daytona, we had some real serious speed, but we unfortunately got caught up in the big one. Before that, we were pushing my teammate Ty Dillon to the lead. At Atlanta, we ran into some trouble with some framing height clearance issues. During the race, we had some issues keeping the nose where we wanted it, so it fell off a little bit of speed there. Overall, I think they’ve been really positive experiences.”
It’s obviously huge pressure ... You not only have to answer to the team owner, but you have to answer to dad when things don’t go right
Gallagher on racing for his father
Following a rocky start in the Truck Series during three starts in 2013 and his nine starts last season, Gallagher’s experience should enable him to contend for top 10s on a weekly basis. He earned his first career top 5 at Talladega in the fall, and finished inside of the top 15 in five other races.
Expectations are high for this season. Coulter finished seventh in points last year, with three top 5s and 10 top 10s. But now, Gallagher believes it is his time to shine.
“The thing is - I expect great things from both my team and myself in this stuff. I want to see myself and my team inside of the top 5 at the end of the year in the standings.”
Racing for Pops
With his racing career expanding over the past six years, his father, Maury Gallagher, has backed him throughout this impeccable journey. The elder Gallagher is the CEO of Allegiant Travel Co., which owns Allegiant Airlines. Going public on the NASDAQ Stock Market in 2004, Allegiant has since expanded its profits, which has enabled Gallagher to gather the funding to stick his company’s logo on his son’s vehicles.
However, having his father as the owner, the pressure is on for Gallagher. The price tag is quite high to sponsor an entry in the Truck Series, and GMS Racing has two full-time vehicles, along with one full-time and one part-time car in the ARCA Series.
“It’s obviously huge pressure,” he explained. “You not only have to answer to the team owner, but you have to answer to dad when things don’t go right. It’s a different relationship than you would have with a traditional team owner because not only do you have to explain when things don’t go right, but you might have to explain those things at a family dinner, which could make for some interesting conversations some times.”
Gallagher is just a few solid runs away from breaking into the peak of his career, which could catapult the company’s revenue from race fans. As he begins to return to tracks that he has already seen, the results will come for GMS Racing, and it will be quite sweet.
It's all coming together
In addition to his father piling in resources, Chevrolet has begun to help out as well. With Turner Scott Motorsports shutting down at the conclusion of the 2014 season, the Truck Series has just two major Chevrolet teams, NTS Motorsports and GMS Racing.
Only two Chevrolet cars were victorious last season, which puts added pressure onto these two organizations. But the manufacturer that is notorious for winning 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles since 2000 has struggled to find Victory Lane since Richard Childress Racing’s departure from full-time competition at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
“Right now, Chevrolet is helping us getting wind tunnel and technical support, which are the two biggest factors that we’ve seen that have helped us,” Gallagher said. “It’s all on the engineering side. They’re helping us get our stuff standardized and it’s a great help to have their support.”
Since Richard Childress Racing left the Truck Series, it partnered with NTS Motorsports last season. However, it was on the move over the off-season and is now working with GMS Racing.
Ty Dillon and former Truck Series champion Austin Dillon will pilot the No. 33 truck for a combined seven events this year with sponsorship from Rheem. Brandon Jones will drive the truck for the remaining 16 events. Jones’ father, JR Jones, is the CEO of Rheem, and will fund the truck for the majority of the season.
My ultimate goals in this sport are pretty simple ... It’s Cup or bust
Gallagher on racing aspirations
“The biggest thing that they give us is a great baseline for our equipment,” explained Gallagher. “I’m still new to driving the trucks, so whenever I have any type of question, I know I can always turn to Ty or Austin. They’re going to help me out anyway that they can, and they’re going to give our crew chiefs new information to work with.”
Combined, the Dillon brothers have nine wins, 40 top 5s, 75 top 10s and 17 poles in 114 Truck Series starts. Along with their experience in the Truck Series, both drivers have raced full-time in the Xfinity Series, with Austin winning the title in 2013.
The added experience on the team gives Gallagher a solid foundation for setups when the team arrives at the track.
Future in XFINITY?
If all goes according to plan, Gallagher expects to be in the Xfinity Series sooner rather than later. The expansion would bring GMS Racing into NASCAR’s second largest division, which could increase profits for the organization.
However, Gallagher refuses to make the jump until he feels he is ready. There is no rush to move up to the Xfinity Series since his father runs the team, and the money will continue to come in as long as Gallagher wants to race.
“My ultimate goals in this sport are pretty simple,” he said. “It’s Cup or bust. We’re going to look at moving into the XFINITY Series when we feel the time is right. The nice thing about what we’re doing is that we feel like we have the luxury of doing it when we’re ready. When we entered this sport, we had a goal of reaching the top series and we’re not going to stop until we get there.”
Making the jump to the Truck Series this season is a step forward for Gallagher, but if he wants to reach the Cup Series, stepping his feet into the Xfinity Series sooner rather than later is what he is aiming for. The organization could use the confidence boost, and he might be going full-time if he reaches his goal of being inside of the top 5 in points in the Truck Series by the end of the season.