Corey LaJoie has been trying to make a name for himself as a NASCAR driver. He’s made two starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and four starts on the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2014. But now he’s getting ready to go back to his short track roots, at least for a week, when he attempts to make his first career start in the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
“Just look at the past winners with Erik Jones and Chase Elliott and on down the list,” said LaJoie. “Those guys have obviously had a lot of success recently and now are on a pretty good path to get to the top of NASCAR. I’m trying to stay in and kind of make my own name there in NASCAR.”
LaJoie, 23, is the son of two-time Nationwide Series champion, Randy LaJoie. He grew up watching his father race at places like Daytona and Darlington and now he wants to have his shot to race on those tracks.
“I grew up wanting to be a NASCAR driver,” he said. “That’s what I grew up wanting to do. The Richard Petty Motorsports guys lined up those four Nationwide races at the end of this year. It’s tough because I’ve been wanting to run Nationwide all year long, but now I feel like I’m trying to make it all happen at once. Not many people expect it, but I expect it.
“I’m trying to make a name on that side, but it’s always good when you get back to your roots, short track racing, and beating and banging with some of the best on the short tracks.”
That’s why LaJoie is so excited to get down to Five Flags Speedway for the biggest event in short track racing.
“Mile-and-a-half racing is all good and well and that’s where the money is, but the higher you go up it seems like the less fun you have and the more of a business it is,” said LaJoie. “I’m looking forward to getting back to my roots and having some fun here at the Snowball Derby. I’m really excited about it. I’m a short-tracker at heart. That’s what I love doing.”
LaJoie will be racing in the first Super Late Model produced by LFR Chassis. LFR Chassis has quickly become one of the best chassis manufacturers in the world of open-wheel Modified racing, and Lajoie is hoping that it will be the same case with the SLM when he gets to Five Flags in early December.
“They’ve got a bunch of really good people over there and they’re building some really good stuff,” he said. “Hopefully we can get the Super Late Model program running as good as the Modified program. The Super Late Model win is still up for grabs with the house car. I’m trying to get the LFR chassis Super Late Model into victory lane first.”
LaJoie has yet to test the car he’ll be racing the Snowball Derby in, but the team plans to do so as soon as possible at Motor Mile Speedway (VA). No track can simulate what Five Flags Speedway is like, but that’s not the main reason for the test.
“It’s a brand new car so we’ve got to work out the bugs,” he said. He’s hoping that the Motor Mile test and the practice days leading up to race day will let the team work out any possible issues with the car.
“We’ll have a week so hopefully we can work all the bugs out of it and get past those new car blues before the race on Sunday. We’ll have time with the car to work that out.”
Being that this is his first attempt at the Snowball Derby, he has never experienced the disappointment of losing the race. However, he knows how special the race is in the short track world, and how much it would mean to win it.
“That would be badass,” he said. “To take one of those big old trophies back to the house would be awesome. The list of winners is really extraordinary. It would be really cool to add my name on that list as well.”
So how does LaJoie see his chances? Does he think he can go down to the Gulf Coast and win the year’s biggest short track race in his first go at it?
“I’m not going down there just to make the race,” said LaJoie. “I’m going down there to win. I know that’s going to be a tough feat, but we’re not going down there to run second.”
-51 Sports/Snowball Derby Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com.