(Cover Photo Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images)
By Adam Carabine
In case you missed it, StatChat is counting down the days ‘til the 2023 Daytona 500. Every two days, we will have a new article featuring one of the 36 charters of 2022.
32nd Place – Corey LaJoie – 465 pts
SPIRE MOTORSPORTS – CHEVROLET
24.31 Average Finish in 2022 – This was a career year for Corey LaJoie, as he earned his best ever average finish. LaJoie has been a full-time Cup driver since (essentially) 2017, and his average finish has improved every single year. Can he keep up the trend in 2023?
8 DNFs in 2022 – While he may have earned his best average finish this year, he also had the highest number of DNFs in a season in 2022. It was also tied for second-worst in the Cup Series this year. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who had 9 DNFs, was the only Cup driver to have more. However, LaJoie was not alone with 8, he tied with two other drivers.
5th Best Finish of 2022 – The lone Top-10 of LaJoie’s season came at Atlanta. This is surprising, as he has shown to be a contender at the Super Speedways. While after the repave/restructure, Atlanta races like a Super Speedway, it’s more surprising that he only finished in the Top-10 once! It was his first EVER Top-5 in his Cup Series career.
31 Laps Led in 2022 – As has been pointed out in previous Countdown to Daytona articles, many of these numbers are not going to challenge the top championship contenders, but there were still 9 other chartered drivers who led fewer laps than LaJoie in ’22. At the summer Atlanta race, he led 19 laps.
200 Career Cup Series Races – Still searching for his first Cup Series win, he finished 2022 with exactly 200 races under his belt. Earning his first Top-5 this year is a great step in the right direction. It took Michael McDowell until his 358th race to get his first (and only) win, so it’s certainly not out of the question for LaJoie to capture it one day! And at age 31, he still has plenty of time left.
Next year, both Corey LaJoie and his crew chief Ryan Sparks will return to the #7 Car for Spire Motorsports. Joined by teammate Ty Dillon in the #77, LaJoie will hope to continue his streak of lowering his average finish each year.
Coming up next in the Countdown to Daytona series – Kurt Busch!
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