Corey LaJoie signed a multiyear extension to remain with Spire Motorsports for “several” years in the NASCAR Cup Series, he confirmed Wednesday on his podcast, “Stacking Pennies.”
LaJoie, 31, has driven the team’s No. 7 Chevrolet since 2021 and is in the midst of a career year. His 21.2 average finish is three positions better than his previous high of 24.3, set in 2022, as is his average starting position of 25.0. LaJoie is also the only driver to finish every Cup race in 2023.
Through the team’s growth and the recent addition of sponsor Gainbridge, a Group 1001 company, LaJoie sees plenty of upside for the future of Spire Motorsports.
“The last couple of weeks have been big for our team in terms of future with (Group 1001 CEO and President) Dan Towriss and Gainbridge coming on board in a large capacity — whether it be on the car, behind the scenes — so that was obviously an element to make the decision to go back and keep doing what we’re doing easier,” LaJoie told NASCAR.com.
LaJoie and crew chief Ryan Sparks have worked together in tandem since the 2020 season when the duo competed for Go Fas Racing. Their leap to Spire with co-owners Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr in 2021 has seen a continuous evolution of performance over the past two and a half years, and LaJoie is optimistic better results remain ahead.
“I still feel like I’ve got a lot of work to do there and a lot a lot of stuff personally to learn and grow and just continue to evolve,” LaJoie said. “Because, you know, when we built this thing, when we started, there was literally zero employees. Like none. There was a vision that Jeff and T.J. had, and they had some connections with (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Rick (Hendrick) and they had some connections with (Chip) Ganassi (Racing) at the time to get cars, and we didn’t really know what would materialize — where we would get pit crews from and this and that.
“But I trusted Dickerson and T.J. enough (with) the direction they wanted to go and try to get it to, and also how much faith they had in me made it really enticing to be one of the ones that you know, kind of put it on your back and to make it grow. And I take a lot of pride in that. Take a lot of pride in our continued trajectory.”
That trajectory placed LaJoie in the midst of several conversations in NASCAR’s “Silly Season” of free agency, and he got an opportunity to drive the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at Worldwide Technology Raceway in June at Gateway for the suspended Chase Elliott.
“It was weird to me for the last three months to be the hot girl to dance for once,” LaJoie said on the podcast. “People actually interested, asking what your deal is, being talked about as like a commodity of sorts, that you kind of bring value to the team. It was cool to see just the progression of I guess my career skills and just a brand inside and outside the car.”
The race at Gateway didn’t go to plan for LaJoie, who qualified 30th and finished 21st in his lone start for Hendrick. But that’s not to say the opportunity was all for naught.
“The wheels were already in motion (to return to Spire) before that, but it did show me how important continuity is and also having a group that really is all in,” LaJoie said. “Like, there’s no doubt when I go to Spire Motorsports that the owners have my back — spotter, crew chief, engineer, car chief, pit crew — like we are one team and there’s no pointing fingers. There is a collective understanding and mindset there that we’re trying to build on.”
LaJoie ranked 21st in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings at the end of June, following the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. Four finishes of 27th or worse in the past five races have seen that ranking drop to 27th in points, but the ebbs and flows are all part of the process of finding the consistency LaJoie and Spire are looking to build.
Front Row Motorsports’ journey toward becoming a potential playoff-caliber team based on points alone sets a base that Spire can aim toward.
“It’s not like we’re going to instantly be a playoff contender over the next 16 months,” LaJoie said. “But I think by the by the length of the deal, we’re going to continue to build it to where you see Michael McDowell, where he’s built Front Row. They’ve had a 10-year head start or more on what we’ve been trying to do at Spire.
“So I think with the Gainbridge partnership behind the scenes, I think that’s going to expedite that process a little bit. But, you know, when I started getting some interest from other people in the garage, it didn’t really take my eye off the ball of what we were building what we’re gonna continue to build.”