Corey LaJoie is set to replace the suspended Chase Elliott in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott was suspended for one Cup Series race by NASCAR as a result of the fact that he hooked the No. 11 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in the right rear during Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, knocking both drivers out of the race.
The decision was consistent with the decision to suspend 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace for one race last October when he made a similar move on Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
As a result, Elliott will not be behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet in this coming Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
Corey LaJoie, who competes full-time for Spire Motorsports behind the wheel of the No. 7 Chevrolet, was called upon to replace NASCAR’s most popular driver.
LaJoie, who wrote a letter to team owner Rick Hendrick back in 2020, asking to keep him under consideration to replace Jimmie Johnson, now has the best opportunity of his career in front of him this week. What happens if he wins Sunday’s race?
A race win for LaJoie behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet would absolutely count toward his playoff eligibility because he is a full-time driver who competes in all events, even though he would likely be driving the No. 7 Chevrolet throughout the playoffs. A full-time driver who qualifies for the playoffs can compete for the championship in any car.
As for the No. 9 car, a LaJoie victory would lock the No. 9 team into the owner playoffs, since those results are tied to the car and the team as opposed to the driver. By that same logic, a LaJoie win on Sunday would not lock Elliott into the driver playoffs.
LaJoie currently sits in 19th place in the driver standings, while Elliott sits in 28th after missing six races with a broken leg earlier this season. The No. 7 team sits in 20th in the owner standings, while the No. 9 team sits in 16th.
The Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter is scheduled to take place at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway this Sunday, June 4 beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. It is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!