Spire Motorsports hopes four-year NASCAR Cup Series veteran Corey LaJoie can help them move up the pecking order next season.
Until then, they’re using him in other ways.
During a Tuesday video teleconference with reporters, LaJoie was asked about his early input on Spire’s operation since joining in late November.
“Let me put it this way: About 15 feet over, on a surface plate, I’m building a sign for out in front of the (team) shop,” he replied. “That’s how much input they’re giving me with the team.”
This was the sign I was talking about. https://t.co/3ybRE8R4pA pic.twitter.com/dV4cruczGt
— Corey LaJoie (@CoreyLaJoie) December 18, 2020
LaJoie, son of two-time Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, figures to have his touch on a lot of other areas, too, as Spire expands to a two-car program.
The organization, owned by Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr, purchased the charter and assets of now-defunct Leavine Family Racing at the end of this past season.
Now Spire looks to put forth its most competitive effort since joining the Cup Series in 2019.
Enter LaJoie, who was intrigued by the idea of helping a team grow into a contender.
“I thought that I could bring what my value is, on and off the racetrack, and I thought it was going to be more of (of an) accomplishment if I jump in with those guys at the ground level and build something, as opposed to being handed the keys for something that you kind of know what the framework already looks like,” he said.
“That’s kind of what excited me about doing it: Jumping in, having a part in building something … Hopefully, we can compete for wins and fighting for a playoff spot in the next couple of years.”
Helping LaJoie will be crew chief Ryan Sparks, who worked with him last season at Go Fas Racing.
Ryan Sparks (No. 7) and Kevin Bellicourt (No. 77) will take the reins as the crew chiefs of the new Spire Motorsports teams. 💪@rsparks_7 | @kevinbellicourt pic.twitter.com/9d1edtYDES
— Spire Motorsports (@SpireMotorsport) December 10, 2020
While LaJoie noted that he and Sparks were not a package deal for Spire, he indicated how important maintaining that continuity is.
“I felt like our cars drove particularly well at a lot of the places we went to (last year), especially with no practice and one day shows,” LaJoie said. “It’s gonna be really important to have a guy that knows how to translate whatever pops up on the computer in simulation and then put it in real life. I think Ryan is one of the best I’ve worked with in that regard.
“We also have all the notes and he knows what I favor in terms of set-ups, to where we can almost hit the ground running as opposed to learning each other throughout the course of the first half of the season.”
Along with Sparks, LaJoie has more resources to work with – including Spire’s partnerships with Chip Ganassi Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, the latter supplying the team’s engines.
All things considered, he feels there’s no reason he can’t be better than he was last year at Go Fas.
How much better he’ll be is to be determined. But he still has his own ambitions.
“It’s hard to say, being that we have no clue in terms of where we stack up speed-wise with the motor program in the cars, but my personal goals are to compete with JTG (Daugherty Racing), beat Front Row (Motorsports),” LaJoie said.
“I’d like to think that we can be somewhere between 19th and 22nd, 23rd in points. I think that’s really doable if we execute and don’t have any mechanical failures. Because if you look, the (Ganassi cars) have been playoff cars the last five years and (Ganassi driver) Kurt (Busch) shows a lot of speed out of the weekend.
“If I have something similar to what those guys have, I’d hate to think we couldn’t be up there racing the majority of the time.”