LaJoie Snags Third Rockingham Victory

Corey LaJoie (34) works his way through traffic en route to victory Saturday at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. (Drew Hierwarter photo)
Corey LaJoie (34) works his way through traffic en route to victory Saturday at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. (Drew Hierwarter photo)

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — Corey LaJoie continued to bat a 1.000 Saturday at Rockingham Speedway in the UARA Late Model Series, winning his third event in three outings at the one-mile track, while Frank Kimmel II finally made it to victory lane after narrowly missing it in November in the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals.

The two races were the preliminary events to Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series inaugural Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200, which marks NASCAR’s return to The Rock after an eight year absence. Nelson Piquet Jr. has the pole for Sunday’s 200-lap race that begins at 1 p.m.

LaJoie’s victory came in a green-white-checker finish that saw the Concord, N.C., driver snatch the lead from Travis Swaim on the scheduled 75-lap race’s final restart. The final two laps — 75 and 76 — were the only ones led by LaJoie.

“I knew I had to give Travis a little because I couldn’t jump him on the restart,” LaJoie said. “He had a good jump, but he grabbed fourth gear and his clutch slipped. That gave me the space I needed. I don’t even know what happened behind me. I was just digging for all I was worth those last two laps.”

Swaim, who started on the pole, dominated the event, leading twice for 56 laps. However, with three restarts in the final 17 laps the faulty clutch on Swaim’s Ford proved to be his Achilles Heel.

“We found out during qualifying we didn’t have a clutch and that obviously cost us at the end of the race,” Swaim said. “That’s why we tried to stay out front all day.”

Clay Rogers, who led twice for 18 laps, was the race’s only other leader. Rogers, who started beside Swaim on the front row, jumped into the lead at the race’s beginning and held it for the first 13 laps. Swaim snatched it from him on the backstretch on lap 14 and maintained it through lap 64. Rogers regained the No. 1 position on a restart on lap 65 when he made it three wide with Swaim and LaJoie.

It appeared Rogers might be able to cruise to victory until lap 71. Just four laps shy of the finish Rogers’ first-place Ford spun off turn four while Swaim and LaJoie battled for second. Swaim grabbed the lead, but then lost it to LaJoie when the race restarted for the green-white-checkered finish.

Ronnie Bassett Jr. finished second, while Swaim had to settle for third, both in Fords. Rounding out the top five, respectively, were Tim George Jr. and Jake Morris, both in Chevrolets.

In the 75-lap Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals event, Kimmel II dominated the race, leading three times for 60 laps. Chuck Barnes Sr. was the race’s only other leader, setting the pace on two occasions for 15 laps before his car developed problems on lap 26.

Finishing second to Kimmel II was Curtis Peeples of Round-O, S.C. Rounding out the top five were: Tony Conway, Willie Reyns and Jason Leatherwood.

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