Part Three in the No. 48 Series explores the next driver to potentially fill the No. 48 seat at Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. What makes Corey Lajoie a potential candidate at Hendrick Motorsports?
With the impending retirement of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet remains one of the biggest, most coveted open rides projected for the 2021 season and beyond. So far, there’s no announcement of a successor to Johnson in the No. 48 car, which is leading to wild speculation among fans and lucrative writing opportunities for NASCAR media.
LaJoie’s NASCAR Cup Series Career
The son of former NASCAR driver, Randy LaJoie, Corey Lajoie has spent his Cup career driving for underfunded teams such as BK Racing and currently GoFas Racing.
Notably, these are the same two teams that Matt DiBenedetto drove for before the meteoric rise that led to his ride in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
In addition to the DiBenedetto parallel, Corey LaJoie also draws similarities with Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman.
Like LaJoie and DiBenedetto, Bowman spent the early portion of his career driving for underfunded teams when a 25th-place finish was a good day. That’s not a knock against the driver or the team, but simply put, it’s a reality.
While other, more accomplished names are floating as potential candidates for the No. 48, Corey LaJoie has been waging a more active campaign for the position. Most free-agent drivers do not publicly lobby for their next ride.
Actively Seeking his Future
Corey LaJoie broke that mold this past winter by penning and delivering a handwritten note directly to Rick Hendrick requesting consideration for the job.
“This was the first time I’ve gotten a letter from the heart,” Hendrick told NBC Sports in February. “I’ve gotten letters and phone calls, usually from agents. It was a heartfelt letter and it was personal. I was impressed with him before and am more impressed after.”
Whether LaJoie’s letter is enough to get the ride remains to be seen. In some ways, organizations within NASCAR are a very personal family business. As familial as it can be at times, however, it can be just as heartless and money-driven as other businesses.
Like Matt DiBenedetto, Corey LaJoie has an approachable personality and seems to connect well with fans. He is known to join fellow driver Bubba Wallace in playing over-the-fence football during rain delays and is also very active in iRacing and social media. That same fan kinship and personal salesmanship benefitted DiBenedetto and will likely serve LaJoie too.
Are LaJoie’s efforts enough to carry him into one of the top seats in the garage, such as the No 48?
Well, that question remains a story that only time will answer.