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June 3, 2023

Corey LaJoie gets a close-up look at how the other half lives

David, meet Goliath.

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To say that Corey LaJoie’s first visit to the Hendrick Motorsports campus was an eye-opener is a colossal understatement of the case.

LaJoie got the word on Tuesday that he was team owner Rick Hendrick’s choice to replace Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Chevrolet at World Wide Technology Raceway after Elliott drew a one-race suspension for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600.

MORE: LaJoie to fill in for Elliott; Hocevar for LaJoie | Elliott suspended

What LaJoie found at Hendrick was a singular focus and an organization-wide dedication to the pursuit of perfection-and to winning races and championships.

LaJoie drives full-time for Spire Motorsports, which allowed LaJoie to advantage of the opportunity to drive for Hendrick on Sunday. After visiting the Hendrick shops, LaJoie sent a text to Spire co-owner Jeff Dickerson.

“‘I can’t believe Spire and Hendrick race in the same series,'” LaJoie wrote.

“We are closer to a good truck team, I think … If that’s what a Cup team is, then holy cow, we’ve got a long way to go. But it’s fun sometimes to carry that chip on your shoulder and try to be the ones that are beating the Goliaths.

“But it’s definitely a cool opportunity and a cool week this week to be one of the Goliaths, sitting in one (of their cars), so we’ll see how it goes.”

LaJoie also believes his one-week stint in a Hendrick car will have lasting value.

“Man, I’ve been here for three days, and my philosophy of how I approach a weekend and how I prepare and how I’m going to engage with my team at Spire going forward is going to change,” he said.

“I think I’m going to be able to come in there and just share and apply some of the things I’ve learned over the course of the week.”