BUSCH: LaJoie could surprise with win at The Rock

Randy LaJoie, generally a mild mannered friendly driver always willing to take time out for fans. Just hours before the drop of the green at the North Carolina Speedway, he took a trip to the souvenir trailer to grace fans with an autograph...

Randy LaJoie, generally a mild mannered friendly driver always willing to take time out for fans. Just hours before the drop of the green at the North Carolina Speedway, he took a trip to the souvenir trailer to grace fans with an autograph session. Don't let his kind smile confuse you. This guy is a true racer and although he may be minus a win so far this season, that streak could come to an end as the checkered flag falls Saturday afternoon.

The seasoned Busch Series veteran, LaJoie, has 11 top-10 finishes in 19 career starts at Rockingham and in the spring race, he scored a third place finish.

Although his qualifying effort of 24th may not reflect his ability to win on the 1.017 mile track, LaJoie feels his chances in getting a win this weekend may rely strictly on tires and pit strategy rather then starting spot.

"Mostly Rockingham is all about tires.`You can't run through a tank of fuel without the tires wearing out. The challenging part in the Busch Series is having a limited number of tires for the race, which is mandated by NASCAR. Tire strategy really plays a part of your race strategy.`After about five laps the tires are junk, so you've got to rely on your chassis setup and your shocks to run good."

Following Happy Hour on Friday night, LaJoie and his #7 Chevrolet team were 25th on the speed chart. For LaJoie and the 42 other drivers set to pace the field in Saturday's race, it may be a battle beyond the tire wear. "Rockingham isn't a difficult track to get around, but you've got to respect it.`The side g-forces in turns three and four are unbelievable.`I feel them more at Rockingham than any other track, so having a car that handles well takes some of the pressure off the driver."

LaJoie currently has 12 top-10s on the year and is 11th in points, only two tally marks out of tenth behind fellow driver Stacy Compton. That's pretty good considering he spends race morning signing autographs and meeting fans rather then concentrating on race strategy.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Stacy Compton