Championship Fabric: Corey LaJoie Taking A Run At K&N Pro Series East Title

LOUDON, N.H. – Corey LaJoie spent the 2011 season showing he and his “little team that could” belonged on the stage that is the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Corey LaJoie works on his car Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

This year LaJoie has shown not only that he belongs, but that he and his family owned team belong in the group mentioned as championship contenders.

“These guys know that whenever they roll out of the trailer they’re going to have a fight with the 07,” LaJoie said. “I don’t think anybody is looking at us any more like ham-n-eggers here doing what we can. We have what we need. We’ve got the speed.”

LaJoie, who turns 21 Tuesday, is the son of Norwalk native and two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie and grandson of legendary Modified racer Don LaJoie.

LaJoie made three K&N Pro Series East starts in 2009 and then four in 2010. Last year he made his first full-time run in the series, finishing eighth in the standings after recording four top-five finishes and six top-10’s and one pole in 12 events.

After 10 races this season, LaJoie, of Concord, N.C., arrives at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Saturday’s G-Oil 100 fourth in the K&N Pro Series East standings, 25 points behind series leader Brett Moffitt with four events remaining. He has a series leading three victories in 2012.

“It could be a lot worse,” LaJoie said. “It could be like things were last year. This year our preparation has been head and shoulders above where it was last year, which definitely takes a fifth place car to be a top-three car every weekend and that’s where we’ve been. I definitely can’t complain about that at all. Sometimes racing luck gets you, you run over something or cut a tire down, that’s just part of it. You’ve got to take the ups and downs. I can’t be happier with this team because they’ve kind of taken the downs, we’ve had them both this year and they keep going strong.”

LaJoie scored his first career series victory at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. on June 2. He grabbed his second victory on June 23 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. He added his third win of 2012 in the division’s most recent event, on Aug. 3 at Iowa Speedway.

LaJoie made his first career Whelen Modified Tour start in April, winning the pole for the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway. He also has five career Whelen Southern Modified Tour starts with one victory in the division.

LaJoie’s hope is to make a career in the upper levels of NASCAR, though he carries no illusions about how opportunities to do that much emerge. He’s fully understanding that in motorsports success can mean little when it comes to opportunity.

“You know exactly what you have to do, that’s find a big old check [from a sponsor],” LaJoie said. “That’s it. That’s all it comes down to. It don’t matter if I won every single [K&N Pro Series East] race this year, I wouldn’t get anywhere if I didn’t have money. That’s just the way it is. I had a little bit of hope this year that if I ran good in the East somebody would put me in something for nothing, but that’s not the case. Luckily we’ve had some potential sponsors come up to us that maybe we’ll want to work with us. The lord is going to put me where he wants to put me. I’m just patient and putting all my faith in him and he’s going to put me in a good place.

“It’s not a sport like everybody says it is, it’s a business. You can win every single race and not get anything. [K&N Pro Series East veteran] Eddie MacDonald should have got a shot in something and he doesn’t get nothing and he runs good every year. It goes on down the list. There’s so many guys that are good enough that they should at least get one shot and they never got one race and somebody probably thought they were good but they cared about finding some rich kid with a rich daddy and would rather run 20th than run good.”

LaJoie said he regularly has to fight the perception that being the son of a former Nationwide Series champion should mean success should would be virtually automatic.

“I get that all the time,” LaJoie said. “I tell people, ‘Dude, you don’t know half the story.’ I wouldn’t be coming to the racetrack if it wasn’t for me and my guys busting our ass at 1 o’clock in the morning trying to get this thing fast. It’s definitely a group effort.

“We have all the stuff that makes a racecar go fast, which is good people, good equipment and, I ain’t going to say a good driver because obviously I’m the driver. But it takes everything to make the car go around the track and lord willing we’ve been pretty good this year. Hopefully we can get more wins by the end of it.”

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