Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

LaJoie Survives Late Melee for 4th in DAYTONA 500


(Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Corey LaJoie managed to steer clear of a crash involving race leader Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric coming to the white flag to finish fourth in the 66th DAYTONA 500.

The result is the 32-year-old’s best in eight tries at “The Great American Race.”

“Really stoked to start the year with a top five in our Chili’s Catch a Rita Chevy Camaro,” LaJoie said after the race. “Super happy with our team’s execution to start the season. Our Spire Motorsports team brought a great race car with good speed and executed throughout the course of the day.”

Starting 29th after finishing 15th in his Thursday duel race, LaJoie had early ground to cover. After stopping with 11 laps to go in the stage for fuel, the Spire Motorsports driver blended into the pack and finished 13th in Stage 1. He fell just short of points in Stage 2, finishing 11th, but that wasn’t indicative of his speed.

LaJoie took his only lead of the evening on Lap 151, leading just a single circuit. But as final pit cycles concluded with less than 20 to go, LaJoie cycled outside the top 20. The door opened up with eight laps to go, when eventual winner William Byron tagged Brad Keselowski to trigger a massive crash entering Turn 3. Twenty three of the 40 cars in the field claimed damage, allowing LaJoie to restart on row three with four to go.

The No. 7 machine patrolled the bottom lane, hoping to score an opportunity at the win. Coming to the while flag, Chastain darted from the top to bottom, making contact with Cindric and sparking a wreck. LaJoie rode behind Cindric and nearly dipped below the double yellow line but managed to escape without suffering damage.

He brought the car around under caution to score his ninth career top-10 finish.

“We gained some track position, led some laps and after getting shuffled back continued to fight and claw our way to the front,” LaJoie explained. “The 500 begins a marathon season, so it’s great to start off on the right foot. We have 35 more to execute one run at a time & one race at a time to keep this 7 car up front where should be.”

All of LaJoie’s top 10s have come at drafting tracks. He has five at Daytona, including last summer’s regular season finale. He’s also earned two at Talladega Superspeedway and two at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the reconfiguration after the 2021 season. LaJoie nearly earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory at Atlanta in July 2022 before wrecking while battling Chase Elliott on the final lap.

The eighth-year-driver earned 33 points on Monday, putting him 10th in the standings following Speedweek.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns on Sunday, Feb. 25 at Atlanta. The race is set for 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX and Joey Logano is the defending winner.

Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series