The steady progression of Corey LaJoie and Spire Motorsports

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The steady progression of Corey LaJoie and Spire Motorsports


The steady progression of Corey LaJoie and Spire Motorsports


Corey LaJoie is giving his Spire Motorsports team a passing grade early in the NASCAR Cup Series season as the focus shifts to trying to even out their performance.

The No. 7 is 21st in the championship standings entering Martinsville Speedway (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, FS1). A fourth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the team’s highlights, along with an 11th-place finish at Circuit of The Americas.

But while LaJoie has five top-20 finishes, there have also been weeks the No. 7 Chevrolet hasn’t been close. LaJoie was 26th at Phoenix Raceway and 30th last weekend on the Bristol dirt.

“I would give us a B, currently,” LaJoie said of the season. “I had a talk with Kevin Harvick for a little while this week of just how you attack a race throughout the course of a day when your car is fast. You don’t have to race like every lap your life depends on it; you don’t have to race quite as desperate. So the speed that Spire Motorsports has given me in our cars this year allows me to kind of turn the knob up and down of what my aggression and situational awareness looks like.”

With one top-five and one top-10 finish to his credit, LaJoie has tied what he earned in a full season last year. But unlike this time a year ago, he’s in much better shape points-wise, as he was 30th in the championship standings after eight races in 2022.

LaJoie also seems to have a much more consistent race car. By contending inside the top 20, looking at a potential postseason berth is realistic this season.

“As realistic as it’s ever been, I think,” LaJoie said. “We’ve always needed to be a Hail Mary type win at a speedway to find your way into the playoffs. But I think realistically, there is nobody behind us in points – you can look at a couple of guys – but there is no more than two or three guys that run consistently better than us. I think there are a couple of people in front of us that, after we string a couple of races together, we can actually be in front of in points.

“I think at the moment, we’re a 17th to 20th-place team on overall speed and execution, so if we can keep that, then you start running top 15, then you start running top 10. But our ways of how we get in the playoffs is certainly through winning a speedway race.”

It’s hard for LaJoie to point to one thing that’s been the difference this season.

“There’s not a magic pill,” he said. “It’s just my team continues to get stronger. We’ve got a lot of great guys working a lot of long hours, trying to build our cars for the additional information that we’re getting from GM and some other partners, and applying what we learned has certainly been an advantage and upgrade. It’s easy to execute days when your cars have some general speed. So our cars have some better speed.

“I’m getting some more confidence. It’s kind of like the chicken or the egg; you’ve got to have confidence to run good, but you also have to have fast cars to gain confidence. We’re starting (to move) forward, and I’m happy with where we’re at right now; we’re going to continue to get better.”