Josh Berry will make his second career Cup Series start on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway as Corey Lajoie has been sidelined from the Spire Motorsports No. 7 as a result of COVID-19 protocols.
The studio where Lajoie records his Sunday Money podcast reported a positive test this week and NASCAR rules stipulate a seven day quarantine for participants possibly subjected to the novel coronavirus.
“It came from when we were doing the podcast on Monday afternoon,” Lajoie said during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Someone came up positive, and a couple of days later, contact tracing, regardless of a negative test, is a seven day quarantine, which is frustrating.
“It sucks and it stinks.
“We had a pretty good car prepared and Nations Guard is on the car this week and next, two wild card races in Daytona and Michigan. Anytime you see someone else, Josh Berry dancing with your chick on the dance floor, that stings a little bit.”
Lajoie conceded ‘this is the world we live in,’ and praised NASCAR for how it returned to active competition from the shutdown last summer.
“I was in an unfortunate circumstance, and you know, I don’t get to do my job this weekend. I wish I could have the opportunity to prove that I’m not sick, or not transmitting or whatever, but I don’t get the opportunity to do that with what we’re working with. That’s what has me irritated because I want to be behind the wheel of that No. 7 car regardless.
“But on the other hand, I know NASCAR is doing what it has to do and there’s no bias.”
When asked if this was a cautionary tale for playoff contenders this fall, Lajoie said the topic has come up in the driver’s text only chat.
“I do think people could probably learn from this particular circumstance and be a little more cautious,” Lajoie said.
Meanwhile, Berry made his Cup Series debut on May 16 at Dover International Raceway with Spire Motorsports — taking the No. 77 to a 30th place finish.
This is a continuation of an already eventful week for the 30-year-old Tennessean, who revealed on Tuesday that he would race full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season for JR Motorsports after excelling in a part-time role to open this season.
On Wednesday, the team tabbed Berry to make another start in its No. 1 entry for the injured Michael Annett. It’s the fourth race Annett has missed, and the second time Berry has piloted the No. 1 instead.
Lajoie meanwhile, is 29th in the standings with a top-10, and a signed contract with the organization for next season. Based on historical precedence, NASCAR would surely grant Lajoie a playoff waiver in the event he could win at Daytona next week, the regular season finale.
Berry has raced for JR Motorsports since 2010, primarily heading up its Late Model Stock and driver development program, while also making occasional starts in NASCAR Trucks and the Xfinity divisions. Berry has also raced for Rackley WAR and Jordan Anderson Racing this season.
From a Chevrolet standpoint, Berry has been the first call when another team needed a fill-in driver, valuable experience for a racer with less than 50 national touring appearances.
“I’m just a local short track racer, so saying this is a dream come true seems like an understatement,” Berry said. “I’m so grateful to Dale, Kelley, L.W. [Miller] and everyone at JR Motorsports. They have always believed in me. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m ready and focused on 2022.”
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