LaJoie having fun again By Shawn A. Akers ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 20, 1999) Randy LaJoie is looking more and more like the Randy LaJoie of old. And that's certainly bad news for the rest of the competition in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand...
LaJoie having fun again By Shawn A. Akers
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 20, 1999) Randy LaJoie is looking more and more like the Randy LaJoie of old. And that's certainly bad news for the rest of the competition in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division.
The two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion, in his first season with owner James Finch and Phoenix Racing, followed up his victory in last week's NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona with a solid fourth-place finish in the ALLTEL 200 at North Carolina Speedway Saturday. After two races, LaJoie leads the series standings by 10 points over 1998 runner-up Matt Kenseth.
"You say points leader Randy LaJoie, I don't like the way that sounds," said Kenseth, who finished third in Saturday's race behind Jeff Burton and Mark Martin. "He gave us all we could handle today, too."
LaJoie struggled through a tough 1998 campaign in his final season with BACE Motorsports. He finished fourth in the standings, but he had only one victory and consistently was relegated to middle-of-the-pack finishes.
LaJoie said he's comfortable running up front once again, where he feels like he belongs, in the No. 1 Bob Evans Chevrolet.
"It feels good to race up front and race side-by-side with Matt and Mark and these guys and not have 'em run into you," LaJoie said. "We're definitely gaining on it. They start counting points at Daytona Beach, and the more you get now, the more you can have at the end of the year. Hopefully, I got all my bad luck out of the way last year and this year we can have some good luck."
So far, so good for Phoenix Racing. LaJoie stayed up front with the leaders most of the day on Saturday after starting from the ninth position. By lap 40, he was in third place, and he got as high as second late in the race.
Burton and Martin, Roush Racing teammates, proved to be too much for the rest of the pack, however. Burton won the race by a 2.647-second margin over Martin.
As painful as the 1998 season was for LaJoie to endure, the beginning to 1999 has been like a breath of fresh air. LaJoie said he knows his team can keep it up, and he believes he'll be a contender for the series crown in November.
"We're on schedule," LaJoie said. "We're shooting for the championship. Hopefully this is something to come with this race team. I forgot just how much fun this is."
Source: NASCAR Online