LaJoie Bests ARCA Field At Chicagoland

Joliet, Ill., July 21 – In just his second ARCA start and his first on a 1-1/2-mile track, second-generation driver, Corey LaJoie, claimed victory in the Ansell ActivArmr 150 ARCA Racing Series race at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday.

LaJoie took the lead from polesitter Ryan Blaney on the first lap of the race.

A brief yellow cam out early in the event when Thomas Praytor spun when he had a flat left front tire. The tire was changed and he rejoined the race.

LaJoie led through that caution and also through the second yellow flag period that occurred when Paytor again spun, but this time he backed the car into the outside wall, causing significant damage to the car. Tom Berte also spun with the incident but was able to keep going.

With the green on Lap 20, the top five were LaJoie, Blaney, Frank Kimmel, Chad Boat and Mason Mingus.

The top three ran right together with Blaney going inside and getting onto the track apron, allowing F. Kimmel to take the lead for one lap before LaJoie reassumed the lead when what turned out to be the final caution of the 100-lap race, came out on Lap 24 after Spencer Gallagher dropped oil in Turns Three and Four.

During the yellow, the leaders came down pit road.

Following the restart, Will Kimmel assumed the lead, followed by Caleb Armstrong, F. Kimmel, Mingus and LaJoie.

W. Kimmel led until Blaney went down onto the front stretch apron to take back the lead on Lap 40, with Lajoie also getting by W. Kimmel for second.

As Blaney led, LaJoie was close behind, until Blaney began to pull away by Lap 55.

As the laps wore on, concern was growing about if, and when, pit stops would happen as fuel became a question as the race continued under green. Much of the field would have run over 70 laps since their last stop if they did not pit prior to the end of the race.

As concern over the fuel situation grew, W. Kimmel elected to relinquish third place to pit for fuel. At that point, only eight cars were on the lead lap.

On Lap 85, LaJoie gave up second place to pit for two tires and fuel.

The following lap, F. Kimmel and Mingus made pit stops.

By Lap 88 the top five were Blaney, Justin Boston, Josh Williams, LaJoie and W. Kimmel.

Blaney had last pitted for fuel on Lap 25 and it was believed he did not have enough fuel to make it to the finish, but he showed no indication of intending to pit.

On Lap 92, as many had predicted would happen, Blaney ran out of fuel and, to add insult to injury, he was held in his pit by race officials as he was speeding on pit road coming to his pit.

On Lap 95, the top five were Boston, Williams, LaJoie, Blaney and W. Kimmel. It was only because Blaney had a one lap lead when he ran out of fuel that he was able to maintain a top five position.

The race outcome soon became a waiting game as Boston and Williams had pitted on the same lap as Blaney and had to be very low on fuel.

Boston led through Lap 98 when he ran out of fuel. Williams, although still in second, had slowed drastically to try to reserve his fuel.

LaJoie, with plenty of fuel, was in a position to take advantage of the situation as Boston dropped back and Williams could not keep LaJoie from assuming the lead.

LaJoie, who led a total of 38 laps, took the checkered ahead of Williams, who had successfully stretched his fuel to the finish. Blaney rebounded to finish third, W. Kimmel was fourth and Chad Boat rounded out the top five.

LaJoie, who recently signed as a development driver with Richard Petty Motorsports, was ecstatic about the win.

“This is big for my career,” he said. “We have been working our butts off the last two months to get this done. It was mostly our car but the Ruolo Brothers (a longtime ARCA team) helped us out.”

“Hopefully I’ll keep on going up the ladder. We’ll be back when we can put some dollars under the hood,” he added.

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