By: Ashley McCubbin
If you are a regular follower of Corey Lajoie on social media, you have heard the term stacking pennies in regards to continuous build of performance behind the wheel.
The actual origin of the term date back to his beginnings in the NASCAR Cup Series with BK Racing, in feeling zero validation while racing for a “bottom of the barrel team.”
“You’re riding on a donkey in the Kentucky Derby each and every weekend. No matter how much you look at the donkey, it is not going to run with the thoroughbreds,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “Then it gets in your head. You start wondering if you can drive the damn racecar, in running 30th every week, and watching parts fall off. Then you go on social media and it’s just this snowball effect and you just start questioning your abilities and what got you to the Cup Series in the highest level of motorsports in North America.”
Seeing a drop in hos own confidence, he started seeing a sports psychologist, who taught him about “stacking pennies” over the course of the weekend. While he may not be able to find his way up front on the scoring pylon, he could have small victories in making a good change during practice, out-qualifying his teammate, or being one of the quickest 15 cars on pit road time.
“I started doing that, and being more serious, and finding ways I could make a weekend a win even though we finished 31st,” he explained. “Those are the pennies that we started to stack and I knew if I got the opportunity in a car that had the potential to compete in it, those pennies would pay diligence, and that’s what I feel is starting to work out now.
“Those pennies that I worked on, now we have a car that is 27th or 28th on speed, we’re taking it and finishing 17th, 18th, 19th. Those are the things that I have been taking serious since moving up to the Cup Series and stacking those small wins and staying motivated.”
After starting the season with a ninth in the Daytona 500, Lajoie followed it with just two top-25 finishes in the next 12 races. However in the last six events, he has picked up four top-20 results. Back in January, the Spire Motorsports driver felt they could become a top-20 by mid-season, and feels they are on pace for that goal despite being about 24th on speed alone.
“Right now, I think we’re executing races well,” he commented. “We’re not trying to get too much, (and) we’re being realistic; we’re doing everything we can do with our racecar.”
Some people have attributed the gains to Chip Ganassi Racing finding speed, which Spire has a technical alliance with. While Lajoie would like to feel they are reaping the benefits in using the same chassis with CGR hanging their bodies, he feels his team deserves a lot of credit.
“My crew chief Ryan and engineer Roy, they run the simulation pretty much internally,” he shared. “We don’t get much set-up help from those guys, wind tunnel notes, but they mount our bodies, give us chassis and suspension pieces. So we may not know the greatest tricks that they’re finding in terms of wind tunnel numbers and body builds, but it should trickle down internally.
“Generally, though, it’s more myself learning these cars and how to make them turn, how to make them grip. We maybe have an alliance, but at the end of the day, we’re not in the shop so you can’t just look over to the next cubicle and ask what truck arm or what they’re running. We are on our own little island, probably more so next year as a single-car team, but anybody knows me knows I’m up for a challenge and I don’t mind bearing down and getting after it.”