By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Corey LaJoie was once regarded as one of the hottest developmental talents in NASCAR. After winning five races in the 2012 K&N Pro East Series, LaJoie had opened many doors, but it led to very few starts in the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series ranks.
Sunday morning at Dover International Speedway, LaJoie got a chance to showcase his talents by securing his career-best finish.
LaJoie started the race from the 19th position and all day long in the Drive Sober 200, he kept his nose clean and drove a smart race. At lap 67, LaJoie was part of a group of drivers who opted to pit off sequence from the rest of the field. The thinking was that if a caution could fall during a green-flag pit sequence, then those drivers could find themselves at the front of the field.
With 62 laps to go, a hard crash involving Justin Marks brought out the yellow flag. Green flag pit stops had just concluded for the leaders, while LaJoie and others were still on the track pacing the field.
As a result this moved LaJoie into the top-five, where he would stay for basically the rest of the event.
Under this caution period, LaJoie pitted for fuel and tires. This gave LaJoie fresh tires on his No. 24 Toyota Camry, while the majority of the field was relegated to rubber that was about 20-laps older than LaJoie’s. As a result, LaJoie was able to hold off the majority of the field behind him and he was running in the top-five in the closing laps.
LaJoie couldn’t hang on to fifth, as a hard-charging Alex Bowman got around him, but LaJoie would do enough to secure a sixth-place finish.
“Good job guys, that was fun,” LaJoie shouted on the radio as the race ended.
This marks LaJoie’s second-consecutive top-10 finish in the Xfinity Series, as his last start was back in Bristol where he finished 10th. What makes this more impressive is that JGL Racing, as an organization, only has seven total top-10 finishes on their record since the team opened shop in 2001. In just seven starts with the team, LaJoie already has accrued nearly one-third of the team’s all-time top-10 finishes.
Although LaJoie fell out of favor with bigger teams over the last few years due to a lack of sponsorship dollars, perhaps runs like Sunday at Dover can help push the 25-year-old driver back up the NASCAR ladder.