BUSCH: Nazareth LaJoie's Points Nosedive

LaJoie's point race takes a blow Dave Rodman NAZARETH, Pa. (May 17, 1998) It took two-time defending NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion Randy LaJoie 10 races this season to lead a lap. In Sunday's First Union 200 at Nazareth...

LaJoie's point race takes a blow Dave Rodman

NAZARETH, Pa. (May 17, 1998) It took two-time defending NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion Randy LaJoie 10 races this season to lead a lap. In Sunday's First Union 200 at Nazareth Speedway, LaJoie's championship hopes plunged even lower when he was eliminated on the sixth lap in an accident.

LaJoie finished 42nd and dropped from fifth, 119 points out of the lead to eighth, 247 points behind leader Mike McLaughlin.

LaJoie's problems at Nazareth started in the latest of his well-publicized tangles with Buckshot Jones. For more than the last year, the pair have swapped blows on the track and barbs off it.

LaJoie, who had qualified 17th in the No. 74 FINA Chevrolet, apparently was tagged from behind by Jones' No. 00 Bayer/Alka-Seltzer Pontiac heading down the hill into Turn 3 on the one-mile oval on lap six. It sent LaJoie's car heavily into the wall and he was out of the race on the spot.

"The car was running fine and we were just settling in," LaJoie said, barely masking his disgust. "It's a shame -- this was a good car and now it's torn up pretty bad."

Asked what happened, LaJoie simply replied, "Double-oh ..." -- Jones' number.

For his part, Jones -- who remained in fourth in the standings although he fell to 160 points behind McLaughlin -- claimed innocence in the crash.

"I was a little bit faster than a few of the cars in front of us," said Jones, who won the series' previous round, the Gumout Long Life Formula 200 at New Hampshire nternational Speedway in Loudon. "I got a run on them a few times but there wasn't enough room, so I just backed off waiting to see what would happen. I could get through turn 2 real good and had a lot of momentum going down there.

"I don't know if the guys in front of Randy got on the brakes hard or what, but I was carrying a lot of momentum and I was all over the brakes trying to keep from hitting him. t's just a racing deal. I hope the media doesn't try to pump this up like there's still problems between me and him. I'm sure they will."

Although he appeared non-committal the more time that passed, LaJoie was upset. He first climbed atop the BACE Motorsports hauler to watch some of the race, where he was briefly joined for consolation by his wife, Lisa. He then paced up and down pit road after changing clothes, before appearing to be awaiting the end of the race and what he called an overdue discussion with Jones.

"It's aggravating -- really aggravating that every time we have trouble it's because of one idiot," LaJoie said. "Every time he has brain fade he takes it out on me. It's getting real old."

With the series heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Round 12 in next Saturday's Carquest Auto Parts 300, LaJoie is seriously troubled by his point standing. And Charlotte's high-speed 1.5-mile layout is not a speedway that's treated him particularly well. He only has one top-five finish there in his career, in the same event in 1996.

"We're not gonna have a choice, we're gonna have to do something there," LaJoie said adamantly. "We've got to turn this around there -- we can't keep going like this. We're running for the championship."

Ironically, Jones crashed in the same corner some 135 laps later when he tried to out-brake point leader Mike McLaughlin.

"I was a little bit faster than Mike and we were especially pretty good coming under the bridge, Jones said of his progress through Turn 2. "I got a pretty good run on him down the backstretch and I thought we had enough room to clear him.

"Once I realized I didn't, I got on the brakes because I didn't want to hit him or nothing. I had been using my brakes quite a bit out here. I guess I had 'em too hot because the car wasn't slowing down enough, I had to get on 'em even harder and it whipped around.

"The way I sit in my car I can't really see all the way through there (sharp, downhill Turn 3). If you get through there good you can really pick up a lot of speed. If you mess up you can lose a lot of speed."

Or a couple good race cars.

As he sat at the back of his hauler patiently answering the media's questions, Jones said he had not yet had a chance to talk to LaJoie, nor did he anticipate doing so.

"I don't anticipate nothing," he said. "If we do we do and if we don't we don't."

Source: NASCAR Online

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Buckshot Jones , Mike McLaughlin