Opportunity is something every race car driver wants, but very few receive.
In the case of Corey LaJoie, he’s been working his entire career for an opportunity to drive solid equipment in the NASCAR Cup Series.
After years of toiling away in outdated and underfunded equipment, LaJoie may have found the opportunity he was looking for with Spire Motorsports.
“I’ve never been more excited leading into any race season in my life than I have been for 2021,” said LaJoie, the son of two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie and the grandson of New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Don LaJoie.
Prior to this year, LaJoie has found himself struggling near the back of the NASCAR Cup Series field since becoming a series regular in 2017 when he joined the now-defunct BK Racing operation.
In his first season, he rarely ran anywhere near the top 10, earning a best finish of 11th during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. He only earned three other finishes of 25th or better in 32 starts that year.
LaJoie spent the next season sharing TriStar Motorsports’ No. 72 entry with Cole Whitt. His best finish was 16th.
He then moved on to Go FAS Racing where he spent two seasons and claimed his first three top-10 finishes, including an eighth-place effort in last year’s Daytona 500.
Yet, LaJoie still found himself yearning for an opportunity to show his true ability. He thinks his deal with Spire Motorsports is that chance. He also thinks that everything he’s learned to date has prepared him for this opportunity.
“I certainly haven’t learned all the lessons there are to learn, but all the lessons that I have learned, I’ve learned the hard way on live television for everybody to watch,” LaJoie acknowledged. “I haven’t had the opportunity to learn a whole lot in the Xfinity Series or race a bunch of races there to get your feet wet. It wasn’t even get your feet wet, it was jump in the ocean and figure out how to tread water.
“When guys jump in certain situations with great people and great cars around them, that learning curve is a little less steep because the cars can carry you when the experience doesn’t match,” LaJoie explained. “I’ve never had that opportunity to have some fast race cars to complement. Learning the garage, learning the politics, learning my brand off the race track, and also just trying to figure out the areas I can control without the fastest car, I think that’s really going to apply when Spire puts fast hot rods underneath me this season.”
The way LaJoie explains it, this chance to drive for Spire Motorsports started in the garage area and gained legs as a type of inside joke with Spire owners Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr.
“I’ve had a good relationship with T.J. Puchyr and Jeff ever since I’ve been moseying around in the Cup Series,” LaJoie said. “The joke between Jeff and I … it wasn’t even really a joke. Every time I saw Jeff over the past couple of years it’s been, ‘You know, when you guys are actually ready to go real racing, you’ve got my number.’ We’d kind of laugh and say, ‘OK, you ready? I’m ready. Whenever you’re ready, I’m ready.’”
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