Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Corey LaJoie Preps for Truck Series Debut

The Camping World Truck Series is back in action, this time on Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway. A quick look at the entry list shows us that Cup drivers Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski will return to action, but you’ll also see names like Chase Pistone, Max Gresham and Caleb Holman. One driver making his series debut tonight is Corey LaJoie.

Of course, you recognize the last name if you’ve been watching NASCAR for a while, as he’s the son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie. Not long ago, Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises announced that the 22-year-old would pilot their No. 92 truck at Kentucky, where he won in the ARCA Racing Series previously for the Truck series race before pulling double duty and running in Friday night’s Nationwide event as well.

“Corey is a great talent. He is a guy we have seen a lot of over the years in late models and I’m glad it worked out for him to be behind the wheel of the [No.] 92 truck this week,” RBR owner Ricky Benton said. “Corey has fit right in with our guys down here and hasn’t been afraid to get in and do what needs to be done to get ready to go racing this week. We are looking for a strong run at Kentucky.”

LaJoie has five wins and 20 top-10 finishes in 35 K&N Pro Series East starts. All five of those victories came during the 2012 season. Additionally he scored three wins last year in six ARCA starts.

“I’ve always wanted to drive for Ricky [Benton]. He is a guy who is passionate about racing and has built a good program in the truck series,” LaJoie said. “I am extremely thankful for this opportunity. The trucks are a great series and my goal is to go to Kentucky and be competitive. We will see where is goes from there.”

If you’re sitting here thinking his name sounds familiar, you would be correct. Last October, LaJoie was in the spotlight for all the wrong reason. He was placed on an indefinite suspension for an insensitive tweet and required to attend sensitivity training as a part of his suspension. I won’t be reposting that tweet since I do believe in second chances, but if you don’t remember and really want to know, a quick Google search would bring it up in seconds. NASCAR explained the suspension.

“Corey LaJoie recently issued an insensitive and intolerable communication that has no place in our sport,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR’s vice president for regional and touring series. “Each of NASCAR’s 2013 series-specific rulebooks includes our code of conduct that unequivocally states our stance specific to the use of demeaning language. We expect our entire industry to adhere to that code.”

The tweet was quickly deleted from LaJoie’s Twitter feed, but the damage had been done. Following his suspension announcement, LaJoie issued a statement addressing the tweet.

“I am very sorry for those offended by my recent remark,” LaJoie said. “It was an immature and insensitive comment. I’m upset with myself and how this has affected what has been a very positive year in my career.”

The suspension had been lifted by the end of the 2013 season, though, as he made a single Nationwide start with Richard Petty Motorsports. He had been scheduled to run Nationwide races with the organization this season, however that never came to fruition.

You would assume that the tweet could have been a part of that change, especially since LaJoie’s suspension came around the same time Todd Parrott was released by the organization for a failed drug test and indefinite suspension from NASCAR. However, it could have just as easily been sponsorship related, a problem that continues to plague the sport, especially in the minor leagues.

But as second chances go, LaJoie has his tonight. While the equipment RBR brings to the track isn’t nearly as strong as many of the other teams in the garage area, the best thing for the young driver at this point would be to stay out of trouble and complete the race, gaining valuable experience and some eyes that could lead to future opportunities, not only in the Truck series but elsewhere across NASCAR.

While he’ll likely be largely overshadowed by coverage of Busch and Keselowski as the two will probably battle for first and second much of the night, it will still be interesting to see how he will run in what many consider subpar equipment.

Did You Know?

  • Red Horse Racing teammates Timothy Peters and German Quiroga will make the organization’s 399th and 400th starts tonight? Leading into this race, RHR has 398 races under their belts with 12 victories, 77 top fives and 168 top-10 finishes.
  • Jake Crum‘s NASCAR license has been restored? NASCAR downgraded his license following on-track interactions with Ryan Ellis at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month, but Crum confirmed via Twitter that he is once again allowed to race on tracks larger than 1.25 miles.

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