If you take one glance at the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings after two races in the 2023 season, you won’t see many surprises inside the top 16. While a couple of big names like Kyle Larson and William Byron have struggled in the opening two races, for the most part, the names you expect to be in the mix are there.
However, if you let your eyes adjust and allow your brain a moment to process the information, you will see that Corey LaJoie and the No. 7 Spire Motorsports team find themselves 13th in the championship standings after two races.
Sure, it’s early, and things can change very quickly in the championship standings, but LaJoie’s placement at 13th isn’t solely because of a fluke good run in the crapshoot that is the Daytona 500. No, in fact, LaJoie actually finished better this past weekend at Auto Club Speedway (14th) than he did at Daytona (16th).
While the results have been good to start the season, LaJoie knows his team still has more potential to be had.
“As solid as the first two races have been for us, I still feel like we have several areas to continue to improve on,” LaJoie tells TobyChristie.com.
LaJoie continued, “Before the year set out, our goals were to be a consistent, reliable, and gritty team. We have all the ingredients for that and when we execute a race like we’re capable of, we should run inside the top 20 more often than not.”
While LaJoie feels that the No. 7 team is still getting up to speed, the 14th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway was made even more impressive by the fact that the 31-year-old racer overcame being involved in three different incidents throughout the Pala Casino 400.
LaJoie says the run-ins he had on track on Sunday are all a part of other drivers near the front getting used to his driving style and racing around him near the front of the field.
“Racing inside the top 15 is a new thing for myself and Spire Motorsports so it’s going to take some time for those guys to race with the No. 7 car like it belongs there,” LaJoie explained.
As it stands, LaJoie has an average starting position of 12th this season and an average finishing position of 15th. If he and his team can keep those types of numbers up over a sustained run of races, respect will undoubtedly begin to roll in from the competition.
Regardless, LaJoie and his team are already off to a much better start than they enjoyed a season ago as they sit 10 spots higher in the point standings after Auto Club Speedway than they were a year ago.
And there is definitely hope that LaJoie can continue to knock out great results as the driver scored a 15th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last year, the site of this weekend’s race, and he recorded his first-career top-five finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where the series will head in a couple of weeks, last spring.
If LaJoie can mirror those results, he and the No. 7 team could really start raising some eyebrows as the NASCAR Cup Series begins to roll into the meat and potatoes of the 2023 season.
Eye on Philanthropy
At Auto Club Speedway, Corey LaJoie piloted the No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro with primary sponsorship from the Jessie Rees Foundation, and its Team NEGU (Never. Ever. Give. Up.) message. This was the first of six appearances for the NEGU paint scheme in 2023.
The private philanthropic foundation is famous for Jessie’s JoyJars, which are age and gender-specific jars that are filled with new toys and activities to help children that are fighting cancer.
To sponsor a JoyJar in Corey LaJoie’s name visit www.NEGU.org/coreylajoie.