Countdown to Beverly Hills: Randy LaJoie By Dave Rodman CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 9, 2001) -- Randy LaJoie's body was battered during the 2000 NASCAR Busch Series season. But the veteran from New England is literally and figuratively like the ...
Countdown to Beverly Hills: Randy LaJoie
By Dave Rodman
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 9, 2001) -- Randy LaJoie's body was battered during the 2000 NASCAR Busch Series season. But the veteran from New England is literally and figuratively like the proverbial junkyard dog. He may get kicked, he may get down, but he'll never stop scratching, biting and digging to get back on top.
LaJoie's resolve, fostered in his father's salvage yard in South Norwalk, Conn., is borne out by three NASCAR Touring championships, including Busch crowns in 1996 and '97.
So, even while he anticipates a new deal for 2001, Phoenix Racing's driver will celebrate his fifth consecutive top-10 points finish. In 32 starts last season, he had a victory, four top-5s and nine top-10 finishes. As a result, he will be honored for seventh position in the standings at the circuit's annual awards banquet Friday night in Beverly Hills, Calif.
LaJoie went from a peak, winning his 13th career Busch race at the final event for the series at Nashville Speedway USA in the early spring, to being injured twice in the next two months. He spent the balance of the season in a fruitless bid for consistency.
"I've already forgotten about last year," LaJoie said. "We were the first Busch regular to win an event and after we won at Nashville I figured we had a shot at getting two, three more right off the bat."
A third-place qualifying effort at Talladega went for naught when LaJoie was involved in a crash in which he was knocked unconscious, earning him a trip to a Birmingham hospital. James Finch's team bounced back but could never overcome its biggest problem - pit stops.
"We gave up way too much on pit road," he said. "At least 11 times we had what should've been a top-10 or top-5 and we didn't get it. Then, we go to New Hampshire and I got hurt again. Still, we come back competitive at the end of the year. It just goes to show what the series has come to: If your race team is not 100 percent all day long it's not gonna be eligible to win a race in the Busch Series."
LaJoie hopes he'll again have that opportunity in 2001, when he will drive No. 7 Kleenex Chevrolets for fellow driver Joe Nemechek in a new team that will use the same equipment employed by Nemechek's part-time Nemco Motorsports Busch team.