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.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.