NASCAR: Corey Lajoie to make Cup debut; ARCA’s Boston to drive 2 N’Wide races for Gibbs

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Richard Petty Motorsports development driver Corey Lajoie (pictured, celebrating his 2013 ARCA win at Chicagoland Speedway) will be making his Sprint Cup debut this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the small Randy Humphrey Racing team.

RPM has not been able to generate sponsorship to run the son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy Lajoie often in 2014. He’s only competed in one Nationwide race and two Camping World Truck Series races this season.

“I’ve got to make my own path,’’ Lajoie said to Motor Racing Network’s Dustin Long. “Maybe start from the bottom and work my way up.

“I thought I would be in this point four years ago, but God’s plans are always going to prevail and you’ve got to go along with it and trust that it is the right one.’’

Randy Humphrey Racing recently gave Red Bull Global Rallycross pilot Nelson Piquet Jr. his first Sprint Cup ride last month at Watkins Glen.

Lajoie won three times in five ARCA starts last year, including the aforementioned Chicagoland win and two more at Pocono and Kentucky.

Speaking of Kentucky, that’s where current ARCA driver Justin Boston will be making his Nationwide debut this weekend. And he’ll have a solid ride under him, too.

Boston will drive the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in Saturday’s race at Kentucky and also in next weekend’s Nationwide race at Dover International Speedway. Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth has driven the majority of this year’s Nationwide events in the No. 20 car.

“Our goals are to compete and run all the laps in both of our Nationwide Series starts, plain and simple,” said Boston in a release. “As far as being anxious, it hasn’t really hit me yet.

“If anything, knowing that I get to work with everyone on the No. 20 team is reassuring since they’re such a strong team and I’m excited to see what we can do together.”

Boston has won twice this year in the ARCA series at Toledo and Madison.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.