LaJoie Dazzles in His ARCA Racing Series Kentucky Debut with a ZLOOP 150 Victory
SPARTA, Ky. - Corey LaJoie was fastest in Friday's final practice and he was first to the finish line on Saturday when the checkered flag flew for Kentucky Speedway's ARCA Racing Series Zloop Consumer and Electronics Recycling Centers 150.
LaJoie, the 21-year-old son of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Randy, made a race-winning move by getting around Chad Boat off a restart on Lap 67 of 100. Once clear, the LaJoie pinned his No. 17 Medallion Financial Ford to the right fender of Boat's No. 84 and motored to the lead on the outside.
"I was a little loose in dirty air. It was hard getting by because I was so loose. I couldn't really get up to the lead and use the whole race track. So, once I was able to put the car on the outside of Chad on the restart, I got some clean air and it was kind of smooth sailing," LaJoie said.
His No. 17 led the race four times for a total of 40 laps, including the closing 33, and crossed the finish line 2.564 seconds ahead of Mason Mitchell's No 82 Ford. LaJoie captured his third ARS victory of the season in his fourth start of the campaign and fifth overall. He owns four top-five finishes this season.
"I like the characteristics of the place. It's really bumpy. That's just what I grew up with is bumpy old short tracks. You are just into the gas and you're bumping up and down. That's just a lot of fun," he said.
LaJoie earned his previous victories this season at Pocono Raceway Aug. 2 and Chicagoland Speedway July 21. He placed fourth at Iowa Speedway Sept. 7.
Spencer Gallagher, Chad Boat, Grant Enfinger, Erik Jones, Will Kimmell, Justin Boston, series championship leader Frank Kimmel, and Mason Mingus closed out the top 10.
After notching the best finish of his career, Mitchell has become a fan of Kentucky Speedway and its unique terrain.
"It's a momentum booster. We've pretty much done everything we could. We've got poles, track records, top fives, top 10s, a second place. All we've got to do now is get one spot better.
"If you would have asked me yesterday, I probably wouldn't have liked it (the track). Now, I like it. It's a really fun track. It's got a lot of characteristics to it with all the bumps. You can definitely move around from bottom to top. If we come here more than one time, it's all good with me," Mitchell said.
Gallagher battled from the 12th starting position to notch his sixth top-five and eighth top-10 finish of the season.
"My car was handling fabulously today. We took home our third top five in our last five starts. I can't thank my crew enough. All the credit in the world goes to them. It got a little persnickety on the track here and there. I was cascading through Turns 1 and 2 a little bit more than I wanted. All in all, it was a great day," Gallagher said.
Chase Elliott, the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series legend Bill Elliott, made a strong charge to the front after starting 26th. By lap 31, Elliott's No. 9 had passed Erik Jones' No. 15 for second place. By Lap 36, Elliott had the race lead. A mechanical issue ended his momentum and race day on Lap 41.
Frank Kimmel began the day on the pole, but gradually faded. He started a No. 44 back-up car which he described as lower on horsepower after wrecking his primary car during Friday's practice.
His bid to become the second five-time ARS race winner in speedway history and take the all-time series lead from legend Iggy Katona with an 80th triumph ended with a solid ninth-place finish. He now owns 15 top-10 ARS Kentucky finishes through a series track-leading 20 starts since 2000.
"Well, that was a little disappointing. The harder I ran it, the tighter I could get it. We just didn't quite hit the set up very good. We had a top-10 car and finished ninth. That's about all we had," Kimmel said after taking his 20th top-10 finish of the season through as many starts.
He will claim his 10th ARS championship by simply cranking his No. 44 Ford engine at Kansas Speedway Oct. 4.
Today's race was the 20th Kentucky Speedway appearance for the ARS. Four caution periods for 18 laps marked the fewest in both categories for the series at the speedway. Six lead drivers tied for the most in series track history and eight lead changes in the race tied for the second-most in series track history.
Racing continues with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kentucky 300 at 7:30 p.m.
- Kentucky Speedway -