12 Questions with Corey LaJoie (2019)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Corey LaJoie of Go Fas Racing. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. Are you an iPhone person or an Android person, and why?

I’m a normal human being, so I’m an iPhone person.

That makes you a normal human being?

Yeah. Are you an iPhone person?

I am an iPhone person. Actually, you continue the streak. Not one driver so far has said Android.

Yeah, I wouldn’t know how to operate it. I wouldn’t even know how to turn one on.

2. If a fan meets you in the garage, they might only have a brief moment with you. So between an autograph, a selfie or quick comment, what is your advice on the best way to maximize that interaction?

I think the selfie is the best way to go. Like have the camera ready, and, “Hey, can I take a selfie?” “Yeah sure!” Snap. There it is.

A lot of people don’t even know what my name is anyway, so if you can call my name out and it’s not “Paul Menard” — because I get that about five times a weekend. If you can call Corey LaJoie and “Hey, can I have a selfie?” that’s automatic brownie points in my book.

So people see a firesuit and they’re like, “You must be somebody!”

“Paul Menard!” I say, “Yeah, I wish.”

3. When someone pulls a jerk move on the road when you’re driving down the highway, does that feeling compare at all to when someone pulls a jerk move on the track?

No. I get way more mad when somebody pulls a jerk move on the road than on the track because on the track you expect it, right? You’re racing. But on the road when somebody does something stupid, it can put other people’s lives in danger, right? So that gets me way more fired up.

But I’m a little more tame in my older age now. I’m not one to honk, I’m just one to get really close or put you in the median or really use my car as a weapon sometimes. But I’ve toned that down a little bit.

4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?

Not that I can recall. My dad would get pretty mad at me if I did (Randy LaJoie’s Joie of Seating builds race car seats). There’s been times where I’ve raced a Super Late Model or something without a HANS device, and you just figure either “Ah, I forgot it,” or “I’m not going that fast.” So there might have been a couple of times when I raced without a HANS device.

But for the most part, my dad would get pretty pissed off if I didn’t have all my stuff in order and I got hurt, because it would look bad for the business obviously. So in that regard, I try to stay pretty safe.

So his interest goes beyond just the seats, obviously.

Yeah, if I get hurt — even if my toe gets hurt in the race car — it’s a bad representation of the business. So I’ve got to make sure all my stuff is dialed in so if something does happen, I don’t get too terribly hurt.

5. If your crew chief put a super secret illegal part on your car that made it way faster, would you want to know about it?

I’d be interested to know what it was so I can apply it to another car, whether it’s a Super Late Model or something.

So you want to take his idea later after you race it and be like, “Oh, OK.”

Yeah. That’s what a lot of the big guys do with the risk versus reward. The reward is so much greater, because if you can run an illegal part — like spoilers for four months at a time and not get caught until the end of the year and you’ve already made the Chase and you’ve already made the final two rounds of the playoffs, then that was worth it. So I would run an illegal part because there’s everybody else in the gray area. They can tell you that they’re boxed off all they want to, but everybody’s pushing the gray area. Some guys push it a little more, some guys don’t.

Is that a misconception among fans? Because I think fans only think people are cheating when somebody gets caught. But everybody’s doing it all the time, pretty much.

The further back in the garage you get, the less bending of the rules happens because the fines versus the budgets are way, way smaller, right? On a team with a $3 million budget, a $100,000 fine is quite a bit. To a $30 million budget, a $100,000 fine is nothing. So that’s got to be taken into account.

And also, if we roll through pre-qualifying inspection and we fail the first time, we’re really worried about the next time we go through being right because we can’t afford to lose another guy. (Editor’s note: Crew members get ejected for the weekend if a car fails inspection twice). Like we’re not maxed out on our roster numbers anyways — we’re probably two shy — so when we roll through and we fail, we’re like, “Oh boy, we can’t afford to give John away for the rest of the weekend for just qualifying tech.” So we’ve got to make sure we’ve got all our stuff right when we go through.

And those (bigger teams) just have another mechanic to pull from or they’ll put the crew chief in the driver’s bus for the race. Like those guys aren’t going anywhere, right? And they have the resources where they can bend the rules and have it not be that big of a penalty.

6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?

I would venture to say a Taco Bell run would probably not be well-advised before a race. I haven’t had that.

So don’t make a run for the border right before a race.

No, I don’t recommend that at all. I usually get Taco Bell after a race. But there’s certain things where you don’t want to be burping up something and have it just be smelling really bad. It’s not fun when your stomach is rumbling for 400 miles.

And you can smell inside the helmet?

Oh yeah. There’s not a whole lot of escape for that, so…

7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?

I don’t think so. That could get in a real deep conversation, but for the most part, I’m going to say no. I’ll leave it at that. I have other theories, but not enough time today.

8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?

A lot of them talk about their kids and what they do away from the track. There’s not really a whole lot of racing talk because you’re going to get a whole lot of racing fix for the next four hours, so you don’t really want to. Sometimes there’s a little bit of talk, right? Just “How’s your car driving?” and “This happened the other day.”

But there’s going to be a little more talk this Sunday (at Phoenix, in the wake of the Daniel Suarez-Michael McDowell fight), maybe pinning different drivers against each other, maybe head-to-head fights. So see who will win what. I think there’s going to be some more conversations about that.

So after the McDowell-Suarez thing, people will be like, “Hey, do you think this guy can take this guy?”

Yeah, I think so. 

9. What makes you happy right now?

My wife and just the state of my career right now, everything is going really good and I’m happy here at Go Fas Racing, bringing some fast cars to the racetrack. And just reading the Bible quite a bit, just been digging into that, it’s been really good. So I’ve got a lot of good things rolling in my life. I’m pretty content and happy where I’m at right now.

10. Let’s say a sponsor comes to you and says, “We are going to fully fund the entire rest of your racing career on the condition that you wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig in every interview you do forever.” Would you accept that offer?

It depends how much I would be getting paid out of the deal because funding my career making $80,000 a year for the next 20 years is different than funding my career and me making $15 million. So if they’re funding my career and I’m making $15 million, I’ll wear a nose, hair, bell bottom pants all they want. So I haven’t had that opportunity come to my attention yet, but it would depend on what I would be making on the backhand, because every man has a price.

11. This is the 10th year of the 12 Questions. There has never been a repeat question until now. Pick a number between 1 and 100, and I’m going to pull up a random question from a past year’s series.

Let’s do 71. That was my Bandolero number back in the day.

Do you keep a mental list of people who you owe for payback?

No. You know the guys that you owe one to, but you also want to make sure that it’s right time and it’s beneficial to you. So I would like to say no because I’m not a revengeful type of person, but there are certain times where you cut guys a little bit more of a break than others sometimes just from the way they’ve raced in the past. So whether or not it’s putting somebody in the wall, that probably isn’t how I think. It’s just a matter of how hard I’m going to race somebody at what time in the race versus how they race me or did something to me weeks prior.

12. The last interview was with Paul Menard. As you mentioned earlier, he asked how often you get mistaken for him.

Four to five times a weekend.

That sounds very often.

Yeah. I wish I was Paul Menard. But I’m not, and eventually people might start mistaking Paul Menard for Corey LaJoie.

He said he was walking in the garage and somebody said, “Hey, Corey LaJoie!”

Wow! First for everything. Yeah, I’ve gotten Paul Menard for the last three to four years before everybody kind of knows I’m even here. So that’s a small improvement.

Maybe putting your face on a car has helped raised awareness.

Yes, it definitely has, no doubt. Old Spice got their money’s worth out of that. But yeah, that’s actually funny that Paul Menard got Corey LaJoie because I’ve been getting Paul Menard for several times every weekend for the last two years.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a question I can ask another driver?

I would ask somebody if they ever raced hung over, but nobody would be truthful in answering that. Unless it’d be like Clint Bowyer, then it’d be like, “Hell yeah!”

I like the fighting thing. But I think that one comes up a lot — what driver would you fight? Everybody says Ryan Newman, right? Because he’s like cornbread fed and he’s got no neck, so he can probably take a punch.

Do you think Suarez could take down Newman?


So even Newman could take down Suarez? Newman’s that indestructible?

Newman is an oak tree. You could like run into that guy, you’d bounce off.

So I think a legitimate question would be, we all didn’t consider Suarez a fighter, right? Or strong. Who is another sleeper in the garage that you probably wouldn’t want to get into a fight with? Like Chris Buescher, somebody like that.

So not the main guys you think of, not like the Newman type, but who’s a guy that’s sneaky strong, that’s going to be able to…

Kinda squirrely, like punch you in the face before it even happens. I wouldn’t even have bet Suarez. I would put Suarez on the map, but I wouldn’t have seen him yanking down Michael McDowell like a little boy. So I’m trying to visualize the garage. Maybe Kevin Harvick.

He has a wrestler background.

Because he has a wrestler background and he’s training with Cowboy (Cerrone), I’m sure he’s picked up some tips here and there to put you in an arm bar before you even knew what happened. So I probably wouldn’t mess with Harvick. I’m sure Cowboy’s taught him some things. Like say, “Hey man, show me an arm bar!” And then that’s that. I wouldn’t mess with Harvick.

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Corey LaJoie:

Feb. 20, 2018

12 Questions with Matt DiBenedetto (2018)

The series of 12 Questions driver interviews continues with Matt DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 32 car for Go Fas Racing.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

Oh man. I don’t dream a lot, but when I do, I would honestly say 50 percent of my dreams are about racing — which is a lot. So I would say probably once every couple of weeks.

Are they just dreams where you’re driving the car, or does something happen in them?

Winning. I’ve had a dream about my first Cup win multiple times. So it’s coming one of these years or days or whatever. Hopefully in the near future.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

If it’s just a racing deal or you do get into somebody, I don’t know if an apology is necessary. But maybe out of respect, if it’s something that needed confronting, definitely communication is key. When you leave things burning or unsaid, that could usually cause the worst outcomes. I like to be open book.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

Honestly, it’s when I get compliments all the time from guys like Dale Jr., Jeff Gordon and a ton of other drivers in the garage. It’s neat getting it from everybody and the owners, but (it’s more special from) the guys you race against — when you feel like you have earned their respect and they give you compliments like, “Wow, that’s amazing what you guys are doing, how well you ran.”

Even kind of the unspoken respect I feel like I got from the drivers like (Kevin) Harvick and Denny (Hamlin) and Darrell Waltrip jumping in and actually sponsoring my car (at Phoenix), it’s amazing to have earned that respect from all of my peers that I’ve raced with. So that’s the biggest compliment I could ever get.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Matt, we’re bringing a celebrity to the track and we’d love for you to host them.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host at a race?

I think John Cena would be a really cool guy to hang out with and I like like he would just be really fun. I did the John Cena intro song at Bristol and I’m just a big fan of him. I think he just seems like a good person.

Yeah. He’d get you in a good mood.

Yes! Energetic. That’s what I like.

5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

Oh gosh. No. I actually would not. There’s a difference in eating for health and eating for performance, and I’ve learned a lot and I really buckled down on that this year — my fitness stuff and my health stuff and my eating. Like 10 times harder this year than ever.

I’ve learned there’s a good balance; you need to eat your meat, you need to eat your chicken, and you need some carbs for performance. I’ve accidentally eaten really clean before. That sounds great, but like super, super clean where you don’t have near enough carbs, things like that — and I had no energy and my performance was awful. So I learned a lot about that.

My crew chief, Randy Cox, has actually taught me a lot. I’ve buckled down big time, like I do CrossFit every week and I lift and I’ve been like working out like crazy and eating really well. I’m learning every day. So I can’t sacrifice the performance.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished.

I have terrible memory. This should be fun.

This is the 2016 Bank of America 500, which was the Charlotte fall race.

Oh man, I don’t even have a clue. Charlotte fall race 2016. So I was still with BK (Racing). I’m gonna guess 26th.

Oh my gosh — 25th!

Oh man! I thought it was an OK race. I vaguely remember it.

You started 24th. You were the only one on your lap.

I do remember our qualifying effort was good there. So yeah, we qualified in the second round and we had some good speed. Didn’t have as much speed in the race, but Charlotte’s up or down for me. I’ve had some really fast cars and some really bad luck there, so I don’t know which one that was.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

This one’s hard, but I don’t listen to a lot of rap. Does DMX count as a rapper?

Yeah, he’s a rapper.

Yeah, that’s old school. Yeah, DMX. That’s one of my favorites.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

My answer may be kind of vague, but I’m gonna say every single one of them that I’m angry at during a race. Whoever I’m mad at at the current time. I’m a very high-tempered type of person, so it changes week to week, but some of the people that I race around, yeah — I’ve said on the radio many times I’m gonna get out and punch that guy in the face. So it’s been multiple people. I can’t single out one person.

And that’s a letdown because then I would run to your car if I think it’s going to happen with my phone ready for the next fight — and then no.

You are the master of that. I have a little bit of a temper with things. I’m either very, very calm, which I am usually 90 percent of the race, but if somebody makes me mad, I’m just like, “I’m gonna rip that guy of out of the car after the race, just beat the crap out of him.” Like I get that angry, so I don’t have a happy medium, unfortunately.

OK. Well, just follow through one time so I can get it on video.

(Laughs) I hope I don’t have to, but if I get mad enough where you see any big scuffle at the end of the race or something, definitely come to my car afterwards.

No matter what happens, I like to confront outside the race car in person after the race. I’ve done that many times where you catch people off guard. If someone runs into my race car after the race or something like that, that’s it. I’m going right to their face after. And if they make me mad, then things are about to go down.

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

Tom Hanks is gonna be my motorhome driver because he’s got great survival skills, so I’ll be well prepared in the coach. And then Taylor Swift would be my spotter because I would just want to hear her voice as much as humanly possible. And then LeBron would be calling the shots on the box.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

We usually scope that out beforehand, but usually when we’re riding around in the truck, you’re up a little higher and you’re on the track so you have a good vantage point. You can get in there and look, see where your car is parked and then have bird’s-eye view of, “OK, where’s the nearest port-a-potty?” or bathroom or whatever.

I don’t know if I should give this tip away, but the really smart fans hang out near the bathrooms near the cars before the race and they get the most autographs out of everybody.

Drivers actually sign there on the way to the bathroom?

Yeah, kind of. There’s usually sometimes a line, we’re all kind of waiting in line, so we’ve got nothing to do. So yeah, a fan can come up before we walk in there and it’s not very many people, so it’s not like you’re fighting the crowds. So I’m giving them some pretty good tips.

11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?

Oh my gosh. When I win a race, I’ll just be going insane anyway. There’d probably have to be like $20,000 on the line because I’d have to practice starting Monday every day for until the day leading up to when I win my race. because I can’t really do a backflip. If I practice, I’m sure I could do it — if there’s a will there’s a way — but for 20 grand, I’d make it happen.

I’d have to make sure I was really good at it first before I did it, because that’s dangerous. I was always on edge and scared every time he’d win a race; I’d be dreading the backflip: “Please don’t hurt yourself, Carl.”

That’s true. I was always like, “Oh God, we’re going to have to write a story about the race winner getting hurt.”

We might have to up that number, actually, because there’s still a good chance that I’d get hurt. So I don’t know, maybe up it to $50,000.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Brad Keselowski, and his question for you was: How exactly did you become the darling of Reddit? How did that whole thing evolve? He was curious.

That’s a good question. So the Reddit community has jumped on board behind me and us because I really genuinely just hung out in there and on there. As my career started to evolve and I started to become more successful and be in the Cup Series, they just thought it was cool that I was just in there and one of them and just hanging out and commenting, because there’s some really fun content in there that I enjoy.

That was it. It super naturally and organically just built and because they thought it was so cool that a Cup driver was just chilling in there with them and commenting and having fun with them. I’ve even hosted races in iRacing and gave them all the password and told them, “Hey, jump in.” It fills up in a minute. So I don’t know. Just fun, normal stuff.

Do you think they can propel you to the All-Star fan vote this year?

Yeah, I do. This year I feel pretty confident that we have a good shot at it. It’s not gonna be easy, but obviously I’d like for Chase to race his way in because Chase is always, he’s a fan favorite. But either way, I think last year we may have even gotten more votes than Danica, from what I’ve heard. Don’t quote me on that, but for us to have last year gotten that many votes and been that close and if Chase had raced his way in, I think we would have been the fan vote. So for us to have done that last year, my fan base has done nothing but grow since then. I mean, I think we can make it happen. The Reddit community’s been a big part of that.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a question I can ask another driver in general?

I like hearing what drivers think of other drivers. Who do they think is going to be the next driver to be the next up-and-coming driver that’s going to be winning races in the Cup Series in the years to come?

So who’s gonna be the next breakthrough guy that emerges on the scene and starts winning races?

Yeah, whether they’re in Cup now or in Xfinity, whatever it may be, who do they think will be the next guy that’s gonna be the new Kyle Larson or something. It could be somebody like me, it could be Christopher Bell, there’s lots of options like that.