Young drivers join new Petty program

Richard Petty Motorsports is expanding its operation with a development program for drivers Corey LaJoie and Ryan Truex.

LaJoie, 21, competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East the past five years. He won five races last season and finished second in the standings. LaJoie is the son of former Nationwide Series champ Randy Lajoie.

Truex is also a second-generation racer and brother of Martin Truex Jr. The 21-year-old native of Mayetta, NJ won two K&N East championships and five races in his three seasons of competition. Truex has also competed in both the Camping World Truck and Nationwide series. His best results came at Dover last year in the Nationwide Series, where he won the pole for the June race and finished second.

RPM director of motorsports Sammy Johns said the drivers were introduced to the organization the past two weeks.

“We signed both driver to development deals, and we’ll decide what races they’ll run based on sponsorship,” Johns said. “Now that the drivers have a home and know where they’ll be racing, it will be easier to put a deal together."

LaJoie found his initial meeting with team principals Brian Moffitt and Andy Murstein quite enlightening.

“They pulled me into a meeting, and it was the first time I sat down with Brian Moffitt and a video chat with Andy Murstein (in New York),” LaJoie said. “It was an eye-opener. I feel very fortunate that the Lord gave me this opportunity. I’m just itching to go racing. I haven’t been racing enough lately. And I want to get back in a car and contribute to (the) company any way I can.”

Johns says the Truck series could be a possibility for the drivers, “but it’s more likely that they’ll race in the Nationwide Series because we already have a Nationwide Series program and they’ll be able to add to that.”

Johns also said that RPM will offer LaJoie technical assistance and pit-crew help for his ARCA effort in the meantime to get the youngster back on track.

Despite LaJoie competing against Truex in the past, he says that together the two will be a formidable pair.

“I think he’s got talent and will be a good teammate,” LaJoie said. “He has a lot to bring to the table

“It’s definitely a huge opportunity. I just want to put all the chitchat behind me and get behind the wheel. I’m glad they gave me all the pieces to the puzzle, and now I just want to deliver for them.”