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PAIR ON THE BOARD: LaJoie Plays His Cards

Friday, May 6, 2011
Corey LaJoie talks with fellow NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Matt DiBenedetto before a recent race. Photo: Getty Images/NASCAR

Son of 2-time Nationwide champion looking for his one shot

(NASCAR Home Tracks) -- Beneath a dark sense of humor and a mask of self-deprecation lies somebody that virtually all of us can relate to.

Corey LaJoie is man against the machine, the place where Yankee ingenuity butts heads with the technological age. He's just 19 years old, but the third-generation racer with New England roots seems to have the spirit of someone much older, like a country farmer hardened by tough northeast winters and using his own hands to pluck rough rocks from dry and infertile soil.

It's in his bloodlines.

"It's just playing the cards we're dealt," said LaJoie, son of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie. "Some guys are dealt full houses, and I got dealt one pair."

LaJoie is trying to call everybody's bluff and use that pair to rake a big pot from from the poker players on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. There are drivers who have come through the series with name recognition similar to LaJoie's – Ryan Truex, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, just to name a few.

 

But while he has name recognition, what LaJoie doesn't have is a bankroll or a Sprint Cup Series development contract in his back pocket. Quite literally, everything he's got is his own.

"They think we've got five fulltime guys and all the know-how in the damn world," LaJoie said. "But when it comes down to it, this (car) runs better than it should anyplace it goes. I can only imagine if I was in a good piece how much better we'd run. Coulda, woulda, shoulda – I'm just kind of waiting on somebody to give me a shot.

"But it's hard to get your name out there in front of those guys if you don't bring a big old check."

For the first time, LaJoie has cobbled together enough cash to run an entire K&N Pro Series East schedule this season. He alone, with no full-time help, prepares his cars to run everywhere from historic short tracks in the south like Greenville Pickens Speedway to NASCAR national series tracks like Richmond, New Hampshire and Dover.

Surprisingly, Lajoie has four career Top-10 series finishes after running third in last week's Blue Ox 100 at Richmond – all of them at national series companion events. Knowing how good he could be with the proper back is equal parts frustrating and motivating.

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