NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2019 NASCAR Driver Reviews: Corey LaJoie

2019 was a big season, both on and off the track, for Corey LaJoie. It was the first full-time season of his young career in the NASCAR Cup Series. Although he was not with a top team, he was out to prove that he belonged in the top level of NASCAR with solid and competitive runs throughout the season.

Go FAS Racing hired LaJoie to drive the No. 32 car after the departure of Matt DiBenedetto. Previously, LaJoie ran part time for Tri Star Motorsports and BK Racing in the Cup Series, but he never had much success in either ride. Go FAS took a chance on him, and it paid off, as he had a solid season for the team.

Not only was LaJoie a talented driver, but his personality off the track also earned him a few sponsor endorsements, starting with Daytona International Speedway. Old Spice came on board the car — and what was the campaign? Put LaJoie’s face on the hood for the first two races.

It turned out to be a popular campaign among the competitors in the Cup Series and people within the sport. This earned LaJoie attention, and not only that, but he also scored a top-20 finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 despite a few issues throughout the race.

Throughout the first half of the season, LaJoie earned a handful of top-15 finishes, including a sixth and an 11th at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona in the summer, respectively. His most impressive showing came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he scored a 12th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600. It turned out to be the team’s best finish on a non-superspeedway this season.

Go FAS was known for some memorable paint schemes throughout the season with its various sponsors. The most notable scheme besides Old Spice was the Mystery Machine paint job run in October at Martinsville Speedway. Not only was the scheme outstanding and in the running for paint scheme of the year, but LaJoie also had one of his best performances that weekend, scoring an 18th-place finish.

For a team that does not have the resources of Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing, LaJoie and the Go FAS team had a solid season. The team’s 29th-place finish in points was the best it ever had, including better than what DiBenedetto did in the previous two seasons with the team. LaJoie also completed his first-ever full-time season in NASCAR’s top three series and his first in the sport since his K&N days many years ago. In 2011 and 2012, LaJoie was extremely successful, so he definitely has what it takes to run well at this level. All it will take is patience and perseverance from LaJoie and he will get the opportunity he has earned. 2019 proved that he did indeed deserve that chance.

Off the track, LaJoie was part of the Samaritan’s Feet Charity for people who are not fortunate enough to afford shoes. LaJoie started a campaign for fans to donate, and in return, they got their name on his race car at Watkins Glen International and at Charlotte in September. It was one of the most successful charitable campaigns this season. He has been a big advocate for charitable work, and it has made him a fan favorite because of it. In total, LaJoie raised over $200,000 combined from both weeks and even gave up a whole month of his salary just to start this in the first place. That says a lot about the type of person LaJoie is and why people are fond of him.

Was the season successful for LaJoie? Yes. The statistics may say otherwise, but when one looks at the equipment and the resources the team has, it accomplished a lot. LaJoie himself had a successful year, having his best runs of his young Cup career. His previous years were filled with subpar runs and very bad luck, but he proved he can wheel a racecar and that he can be there for a while, too.

Looking ahead to 2020, he will be back with Go FAS, and 2020 will be a much-improved year for LaJoie, especially with slightly better equipment given a new alliance Stewart-Haas Racing and a full year of experience now under his belt. He may not get a win or be a consistent contender to run inside the top 10 with the team, but do not be surprised if he ends up in the top 15 or 20 several times throughout the season.

With 2021 looming, LaJoie will have to prove his worth and show he could be a legitimate candidate to take one of the top rides for that season if they happen to open up. He will be a driver to watch, and fans should get used to seeing him in the Cup Series, because he will be there for a while.

2019 Stats:

36 starts, zero wins, zero top fives, 2 top 10s

Best finish: 6th – Daytona (July)

Point Standings: 29th

Driver Grade: B

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