Last Saturday night, Corey LaJoie left Greenville Pickens Speedway on top of the world. He had just celebrated his fifth win of the season and was leading the points standings in the K&N Pro East Series. The final race of the season was only one week away at Rockingham Speedway and the opportunity to win a championship was within his grasp.
On Tuesday everything changed.
During post race inspection, NASCAR determined that LaJoie’s team had committed rules violations. As a result, driver Corey LaJoie and car owner, Randy LaJoie, were each penalized with the loss of 25 championship points. In addition, Ron Otto, crew chief for the No. 07 team, was fined $5,000, suspended until the fine is paid and placed on probation for the final event of the season.
LaJoie now heads into Rockingham third in the standings, 19 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
He described his emotions this past week as “going from cloud nine to cloud zero.”
In many ways, LaJoie is an old school racer. He not only drives the cars, he also helps build them and assists with the set up. He’s all business on the track with a singular focus.
After his win at Greenville Pickens Speedway last weekend, he was criticized by some for making contact with Brett Moffitt while going for the win. The move caused a chain reaction that left a pile of wrecked cars in his wake.
In Corey’s mind, he simply did what he was supposed to do. He summed it up on his twitter account like this.
“My job is to win and that’s what I do.”
With 5 wins and 9 top-5 finishes this season, it’s difficult to argue with his logic.
LaJoie will start Saturday’s race in the fourth position. His biggest competitors for the championship, Brett Moffitt and Kyle Larson, qualified fifth and 11th, respectively.
When the green flag drops, all the distractions of the week will fall away.
“When I get into the race car,” Corey says, “I have one job; to win the race.”
Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, LaJoie considers this season the best of his career.
Corey looks back at the season with pride as he tell me, “The competition level, how hard I’ve worked, all the people who have helped me and sacrificed to get me where I am plus the five wins; it’s been huge.”
The K&N Pro Series East championship will be determined Saturday at The Classic 3 Championship presented by RCR Racing Museum. The racing is scheduled to begin at approximately 2pm. Live streaming audio will be available at www.nascarhometracks.com.