The title of NASCAR’s favorite son belongs to another driver by a long shot, but Corey Lajoie will certainly be the talk of the town this weekend. The son of former NASCAR driver Randy Lajoie will get the biggest break of his career this weekend as he steps behind the wheel of the No. 9 Napa Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in place of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Chase Elliott. But why, exactly, are so many NASCAR fans thrilled to see him get this opportunity? Let’s talk about it.
He’s A Personality
One reason so many fans seem to be on Corey Lajoie’s side is the fact that he is a popular personality. In the modern world, many drivers have gone into the podcast business and Lajoie is no different. He hosts a weekly podcast on NASCAR’s YouTube channel called Stacking Pennies where he discusses different news, stories, and topics in the world of racing. He also provides breakdowns of his own races, like Denny Hamlin does and Dale Jr. used to do on their respective podcasts, which give NASCAR fans a bit of personality to latch onto and root for.
In a world where a lack of personality is definitely in decline, it’s good to see drivers like Lajoie and Hamlin show a bit of theirs as opposed to the typical prim and proper composures so many fan favorite drivers have.
Below is an episode of his podcast, Stacking Pennies, where he interviews his father, one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers, Randy Lajoie.
He’s A Workhorse
People tend to gravitate towards a workhorse. That’s the same case in the world of NASCAR. Corey Lajoie isn’t a “paid driver,” which NASCAR fans generally detest. He has worked, by and large, independently and very hard for every opportunity he’s been given. Like fellow Hendrick teammate this weekend Alex Bowman, he cut his teeth early at BK Racing driving their No. 23 and 83 entries respectively.
Largely struggling there (though he did have one bright spot, finishing 11th at the then-summer Daytona race) and just trying to piece together a fulltime season, he would later move to Tri Star to run intermediately prior to getting his big break driving the No. 32 for Go Fas Racing for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
While Tri Star was largely a back-marker team, Lajoie consistently ran in the low 20s, scoring several top-10s at his biggest strength, the superspeedways. After paying his dues there, he would later move on to where he is today, driving the No. 7 car for Spire Motorsports which is housed in a shop that once belonged to another popular workhorse with that number.
He Constantly Out Performs His Equipment
While Spire Motorsports is generally seen as a step up when compared to the now-defunct Go Fas Racing, it’s still a relatively mid-pack team. But a team Corey Lajoie shines with. From the hard days of struggling with BK Racing and Go Fas, Corey Lajoie seems to be right at home at Spire and continues to impress. He is consistently a contender when it comes to the superspeedway races and, more often than not, is running solidly in the top-20, sometimes even knocking on the door of the top-15 at most races.
Compare this to his teammate, Ty Dillion, and you can see that he is outperforming his equipment week in and week out. For the moment, his primary career highlight comes from last year’s Atlanta race, the first one with the superspeedway package, where he damn near won the thing. A crash that wasn’t his fault took him out of the running. It was a late-race block by the driver he’s replacing this weekend, Chase Elliott, that triggered the incident. Elliott would go on to win the race.
He’s Replacing NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver
Say what you want, the Chase Elliott Effect is real and it’s not just limited to TV ratings. Many fans will be rooting for Lajoie this weekend entirely because he’s behind the wheel of the No. 9. The same thing happened with Jordan Taylor and Josh Berry earlier in the season when Elliott was out due to injury. With his tendency to out perform his equipment, perhaps the attention is well earned. It will be interesting to see how he does in this less than ideal situation.
What do you think NASCAR fans? How do you think Corey Lajoie will do in the No. 9 this weekend? Let us know!