CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Corey LaJoie got to open his biggest Christmas gift a few days early.

Go Fas Racing confirmed Thursday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame that LaJoie has been signed to drive the No. 32 Ford Mustang full time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next season.

LaJoie will compete in all 36 Cup Series events with the team owned by Archie St. Hilaire, embarking on his first full year at NASCAR’s top level after part-time stints with BK Racing and TriStar Motorsports.

Randy Cox will serve as LaJoie’s crew chief, with Schluter Systems and Keen Parts serving as primary sponsors for the effort. Additional partners for the No. 32 team will be announced at a later date.

The 27-year-old noted that he’s looking forward to being able to grow along with a team that is making strides in their own right.

“I’ve always respected Archie, Mason (St. Hilaire) and everyone at Go Fas Racing because they are constantly building their race team and making it better every year,” said LaJoie. “I’m glad to be part of that continued growth for 2019 and look forward to getting on track and being in a position to show more of my potential.

“The most success in my career has been behind the wheel of a Ford … from the ARCA Racing Series to the K&N (Pro) Series, so I’m ready to jump into that mean-looking Ford Mustang this season,” LaJoie continued. “Also, some of my best results in the Cup Series have been with Randy on the box. There’s no better guy to lead our team, in my mind.”

LaJoie, who signed his deal with Go Fas Racing shortly after the Snowball Derby, noted that he’s come a long way from serving as David Mayhew’s crew chief in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and being at a point where he could have walked away from his own dreams of driving a race car.

“There were times where I honestly did wonder if I should go back to welding seats or just go be a crew chief somewhere,” admitted LaJoie. “There have been lots of obstacles I’ve had to overcome to become a full-time Cup Series driver. If I’m not careful, I might make a career out of this,” he laughed.

“I don’t think there’s been any other Cup Series drivers who were flying out to the West Coast a few years ago that are where I’m at now,” added LaJoie. “To look back on, it’s pretty crazy. Chad Knaus called me … probably four years ago now, wanting me to go over and be a car chief at JR (Motorsports) and work my way through that system, but I told him I wasn’t ready to give up on driving just yet.

“Thankfully, now, it’s all worked out.”

Team owner Archie St. Hilaire said that he feels LaJoie brings a bit of “grittiness” to the No. 32 team that he’s looking forward to harnessing for success on the race track.

“We’re a blue-collar race team and Corey is a blue-collar driver,” St. Hilaire said. “He can build a car, he can fix a car and he can drive a car. I think that’s exciting. We’ve got a lot of good things happening. There’s 22 (restrictor) plate races next year; our best results have come in that style of racing. … I just think there’s a lot of positives going into the new season that we’ll be able to benefit from.”

Go Fas Racing general manager Mason St. Hilaire is looking forward to working with LaJoie and noted that he believes the third-generation driver will help to continue the team’s forward momentum.

“Every year we feel like our program takes a step forward and securing Corey should help us continue to move that direction,” said Mason St. Hilaire. “We’ve learned and grown a lot in our time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and I believe our results reflect that growth.

“We’re very excited about the potential our team has this year. Every year we’ve been able to improve our program in different areas, and we fully believe that this coming season will be no different,” he continued. “Corey is a driver we’ve kept our eyes on for several years and he’s impressed and delivered when given the opportunity. We think he’s a great fit for our program and can’t wait to get this season underway.”

Of note, the No. 32 team will lease a Team Penske pit crew for the 2019 season, something that even LaJoie didn’t know prior to Thursday’s press conference.

“That’s a surprise to me, but that’s really cool,” LaJoie said. “Another reason this is the best holiday ever.”