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LaJoie: ‘It Is Huge’

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EXCLUSIVE By Mary Jo Buchanan – For up and coming driver @CoreyLaJoie, the opportunity to be behind the wheel of a race car for four Nationwide races is simply “huge,” especially since he has not had a regular ride for most of the season.

LaJoie will be racing the No. 98 Medallion Financial Ford Mustang for a partnership formed between Richard Petty Motorsports, where he is a development driver, and Biagi-DenBenste Racing for the Nationwide events at Kansas, Charlotte, Texas and Homestead this year.

“It was a relationship that I tried putting together with the Petty’s and Biagi’s,” LaJoie told POPULAR SPEED. “I was just trying to get in a car. I think it’s a good fit. Petty offered resources and Biagi made it possible to go to the race track.”

“Petty has put together all the financial needs to get me with Biagi,” LaJoie continued. “And they made it work with some resources and help on their side as well. It definitely took everybody pulling in the same direction and for next year if it comes together, I don’t know. But if I have a couple of good runs this year, we should have no problem putting things together for next year.”

“Medallion Financial will be on the car,” LaJoie said. “That’s one of the owners in RPM Motorsports. He supported me last year in the ARCA Series. I had the car that looked like the taxi cab in ARCA last year so it’s cool to have the taxi cab scheme back on the car. That’s what I had in Victory Lane in Pocono.”

Fred Biagi, Co-Owner of Biagai-DenBeste Racing, is also very much looking forward to seeing what LaJoie can do behind the wheel of his race car in his four Nationwide starts.

“Corey has shown that he learns very quickly on the track,” said Fred Biagi Co-Owner of Biagi-DenBeste Racing. “Our first race together we finished 15th in only his second Nationwide Series start. We feel that we can compete in top-five in these four races with Corey and that’s our goal.”

LaJoie is very much looking forward to his first race, which will be at Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 300 this weekend.

“I’m excited about Kansas because I ran ARCA there and was fast,” LaJoie said. “I got 20 laps into it and we were the best car there. But another car clocked me a couple times, I got impatient and wrecked us both. That won’t happen this week. I’m going to find my own niche and hopefully get a top ten or a little better.”

The 23-year-old driver is also looking forward to the other races at Charlotte, Texas and Homestead as well, although he does not have quite the experience at those tracks yet.

“I ran the Nationwide race at Homestead last year,” LaJoie said. “I had a couple laps there but we didn’t have a great run. We ran 17th or something and I kind of put myself in a bad spot and got spun out. Did a little damage to the car but I learned from that. I’ve had awhile to think about it and correct what I did wrong.”

“At Charlotte, I’ve been around there,” LaJoie continued. “I’ve got hundreds of laps there in whatever cars there are. Once you’re in the Nationwide car and learn the radial tires, everything kind of comes together.”

LaJoie also got his first bite at the apple of Cup racing, performing at last weekend’s Nationwide race at New Hampshire.

“I actually ran my first Cup race last weekend in New Hampshire,” LaJoie said. “I thought we ran better than what the stats showed. We qualified 41st and ran 32nd before we blew the gear up. I thought we had a 25th place car but it wasn’t meant to be.”

When LaJoie has not been in the race car, he has tried to stay active and physically fit in preparation for that time when he would be back behind the wheel.

“I’ve been working out and riding bikes to keep my physical health as high as I can get it without being in a race car,” LaJoie said. “There is only so much you can do. I don’t have a lot of money and if I did, I would be racing every week.

“It’s all good and things are paying off now.”

LaJoie is also well aware that his performance may just be the ticket for future consideration of a ride that may open up as Marcos Ambrose exits the NASCAR scene from RPM No. 9 car.

“I would say I’m in line but I’m pretty far down the line,” LaJoie said. “But you never know, if you get a couple of good Nationwide races then I might be talking about it. Right now I’m just hungry for racing and getting those guys at Biagi Racing good solid finishes for the next four.”

All in all, however, the young driver thinks that his newest opportunity is just huge.

“It’s frustrating being a race car driver and not racing. So, now I’m a race car driver and I get to race. So, that’s going to be a good time.”

EMAIL MARY JO AT mj.buchanan@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW MARY JO ON TWITTER: @maryjobuchanan

Mary Jo Buchanan

Mary Jo Buchanan has been a race fan since her childhood, having grown up at a local Pennsylvania dirt track. With her experience in the pits, she has developed an interest and expertise in all levels of racing, from the local scene to the highest level of the sport. Many of her articles focus on the ‘behind the scenes’ and sometimes ‘off the beaten path’ stories about the world of racing. Buchanan also enjoys writing about up and coming drivers and the people that make NASCAR work on a daily basis.

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