A few weeks ago, Corey LaJoie announced that he wouldn’t return at GO FAS Racing after the 2020 season.
It looks like LaJoie is waiting to get bigger and better things elsewhere.
LaJoie has done enough to re-build his Cup reputation from the ground up over the last two seasons as Matt DiBenedetto has in 2017-18 with regular Top 20-25 plus occasional Top Half runs.
The next question will be which driver should take over LaJoie’s spot & aim to push GO FAS towards Front Row/JTG level?
Should Clint Bowyer stay or Kyle Larson takes over the No.14 car, then putting Briscoe in the No.32 is a great option for starters.
Remember, he has yet to drive a Cup Series car before building an excellent reputation in the lower leagues such as ARCA & the Truck Series.
And now he’s in the Xfinity Series full-time for nearly two years has remained in the Top 3 at the drivers’ standings.
Briscoe can learn on the trade without pressure during his first year or two in a Stewart-Haas supported organization.
At the end of the day, if he joins GO FAS, then don’t expect anything results-wise before SHR sees it appropriate to promote Briscoe to the in-house team a year or two later.
That’s because the equipment Briscoe will race a will year or two older as part of GO FAS Racing’s technical partnership with Stewart-Haas before they’re preparing towards the next-gen chassis for 2022.
Unless Briscoe can have some Ford or bring equivalent big name $$$ backing himself, it’s all about him gaining experience at the top level.
Now he’s a young driver who has plenty of talent without the need of significant $$$ backing.
He’s doing very well whenever Richard Childress Racing gives Grala opportunities on a part-time basis.
Grala finished 7th on his Cup Series debut at the Daytona Road Course in the No.3 Chevy as a fill-in for Austin Dillon.
Plus, some decent Xfinity Series displays in P5 at Road America last year & P4 this year as well as back to back P9 doubleheaders in Richmond two weeks ago.
He hasn’t had a full-time home since leaving the Truck Series after the 2017 season.
But if he joins GO FAS Racing, it will be in a limited-budget team, Grala will have to aim initially for the Top 20-25 first.
Suppose he can do that consistently plus some occasional Top-Half runs, who knows. In that case, we might have the next standout driver in Grala, who deserves a chance in better equipment at a medium to top organization in 3-4 years.
Why not follow the former BK Racing alumni trend when DiBenedetto & LaJoie made a name for themselves here at GO FAS in the past? The standout option to fill that vacant seat would be Gray Gaulding.
He made one Top 10 before during the fall Talladega 2017 race in 9th for the former BK Racing team, and both P20 runs in 2018 at the Daytona 500 & Spring Texas Race before he was, unfortunately, let go due to financial issues.
Since then, Gaulding had to find plenty of short-term/one-off Cup deals for the rest of 2018.
After that, he moved down full-time to Xfinity Series 2019, where he made plenty of good results, especially with one P2 finish at Talladega plus three other Top 10s to finish 13th in the drivers’ standings.
Despite no full-time ride for 2020, his ability to get out of the race car without the need of sponsors remained true when he finished 8th at Talladega & 2nd during the August Daytona race.
If he joins GO FAS Racing, he has the proof/expertise to stamp up regular Top 20-25 for most of the time.
And thanks to his Super Speedway expertise, Gaulding can go all the way anywhere in the Top 15 as long he has the patience to survive until the very end of the race.
I think Chase Briscoe deserves a better ride/promotion as Cole Custer with a dream No.14 Ford seat for Stewart-Haas Racing from 2021 when Bowyer retires.
He’s a proven race winner and regular figurehead in the Xfinity Series Top 3 for 1-2 years now, where getting used to winning will benefit his skill set, which will be tested at the top level.
Putting a possible Xfinity champion in a limited-budget seat may be a backward step.
It’s because Briscoe is talented and very capable of handling a top ride like he’s doing right now in this 2nd tier series.
Regarding Kaz Grala, Considering his good performances with Richard Childress Racing, they should put him either the in-house No.21 Xfinity car full-time or loan him out to Kaulig Racing & replace Ross Chastain or Justin Haley.
That way, when RCR eventually gets a 3rd Cup seat or Tyler Reddick moving on to a bigger team, there will always be a spot for Grala to come out of their talent factory.
Again like Briscoe, Grala may want to turn that GO FAS opportunity down due to his recent emerging developments with Childress over the last year.
His best bet would be to complete a full Xfinity year either at RCR or Kaulig in a decent racecar that will later prepare him to stamp top-half runs more often eventually in a Cup car.
With that said, my No.1 pick to replace LaJoie would be Gray Gaulding.
He hasn’t had a fair crack when his Cup development was put on hold by the financial downtown and BK Racing eventual closure.
Without their financial support, he had to work his way from scratch and established himself in the Xfinity Series as a Super Speedway track ringer.
Like DiBenedetto & LaJoie, he’s a past student of a well-known organization at Roush Fenway Racing.
He raced four times for them in the No.60 Xfinity Series Ford Mustang during 2016, and then the cost-cutting happened, which saw Gaulding leave that race shop.
Now, Gaulding can build on that resume he backed up over the last two years & bring his vast expertise at GO FAS Racing.
He’s hopeful of carrying on the legacy that DiBenedetto & LaJoie built over the last four years by targeting consistent Top 25 mark every week.
At the same time, he has the opportunity to deliver GO FAS top-half runs at intermediate/big tracks like never before.
If Gaulding can develop as the same standard as them in two to three years, he’s hoping to receive a phone call from Roush Fenway Racing in the No.6 Ford when Ryan Newman may eventually retire the race track.