LaJoie to make 200th Cup career start at Phoenix

With the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season less than a week away from concluding, Corey LaJoie is set to achieve a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship event at Phoenix Raceway, the driver of the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will fulfill 200 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

A native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, and the son of two-time Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, Corey LaJoie made his inaugural presence in the Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September. By then, he had recorded five victories in the K&N Pro Series East and made two career starts in the Xfinity Series between Richard Petty Motorsports and Biagi-DenBeste Racing. Driving the No. 77 Ford Fusion for Randy Humphrey Racing, LaJoie started and finished 41st in his Cup debut. He then made his second Cup career start three weeks later at Charlotte Motor Speedway for RHR, where he finished 35th after starting 42nd.

Prior to the start of the 2017 Cup Series season, LaJoie joined forces with BK Racing on a part-time schedule. During the first of two Duel events at Daytona International Speedway in February, he rallied from being involved in a late multi-car wreck, where he wrecked Paul Menard and Reed Sorenson in the closing laps, to finish 16th and earn a transfer spot for the 59th running of the Daytona 500, where he finished 24th. He ended up competing in all but four of the 36-race schedule between the Nos. 23 and 83 Toyota Camry for BK Racing. His best on-track result throughout his schedule was an 11th-place run at Daytona in July.

For the 2018 Cup season, LaJoie piloted the No. 72 Chevrolet SS for TriStar Motorsports. Commencing the season with a 40th-place run during the 60th running of the Daytona 500 due to an engine failure and making a total of 23 starts, LaJoie’s season-best result was a 16th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September.

In 2019, LaJoie joined Go Fas Racing to pilot the No. 32 Ford Mustang in the Cup Series on a full-time basis. After commencing the season with an 18th-place run during the 61st running of the Daytona 500 and recording three top-20 results through the first 17-scheduled events, LaJoie notched his first top-10 career result in the Cup circuit after finishing sixth at Daytona in July. He went on to post a seventh-place result at Talladega Superspeedway in October before settling in 29th place in the final standings and in his first full-time stint in NASCAR’s premier series.

Remaining at Go Fas Racing for the 2020 Cup season, LaJoie commenced the season on a harrowing note after being involved in a final lap accident during the 62nd running of the Daytona 500. Entering the tri-oval, LaJoie was battling for a spot in the top 10 when he rammed into the upside-down No. 6 Ford Mustang piloted by Ryan Newman driver’s side that sent Newman’s car airborne before landing back on his roof. Despite the impact that damaged the front nose and windshield of his No. 32 Ford, LaJoie, who managed to finish eighth, emerged uninjured. He went on to finish in the top 20 five times throughout the 36-race schedule before finishing in 30th place in the final standings. By then, LaJoie surpassed 100 career starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

Following a two-year run with Go Fas Racing, LaJoie inked a multi-year deal to pilot the No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Spire Motorsports, beginning in 2021. He finished ninth during the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 in his first event with Spire before posting five top-20 results during the next 23-scheduled events. At Michigan International Speedway in August, LaJoie missed the event following a positive COVID-19 test. From his return at Daytona in August through the season finale at Phoenix Raceway in November, he posted two additional results in the top 20 before finishing in 29th place in the final standings.

This season, LaJoie kicked off his second stint at Spire Motorsports with a 14th-place run during the 64th running of the Daytona 500. Two races later, he finished 15th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March before achieving his first top-five result in the Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway another two races later in the schedule. The top-five run for LaJoie occurred after he rallied from being involved in an early multi-car pileup, where he spun backwards through the frontstretch grass. He went on to record five additional top-20 results during the following 13 events.

Then when NASCAR returned to Atlanta in July, LaJoie led a career-high 19 of 260-scheduled laps as he was battling Chase Elliott for the win during a three-lap shootout to the finish. After losing the lead to Elliott with two laps remaining, LaJoie made a move to the outside of Elliott on the final lap when he was blocked and forced into the outside wall in Turn 1. The contact and scrape stalled LaJoie’s momentum as he then veered below the track before shooting back across the outside wall and wrecked along with Kurt Busch and Cole Custer. The incident knocked LaJoie to a 21st-place result in the final running order after being in position of winning his first NASCAR Cup event. Despite posting three additional top-20 results during the final seven regular-season events, LaJoie did not accumulate enough points to move out of the top-30 cutline in the standings nor qualify for the 2022 Cup Playoffs. Through nine of 10 Playoff events, he has achieved three top-15 results and is currently ranked in 31st place in the drivers’ standings.

Photo by Bruce Nuttleman for SpeedwayMedia.com.

Through 199 previous Cup starts, LaJoie, who will be returning to Spire Motorsports for the 2023 season, has achieved one top-five result, five top-10 results, 57 laps led and an average-finishing result of 26.9.

LaJoie is scheduled to make his 200th Cup Series career start in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship event at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, November 6, with the event’s coverage to start at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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