CP MOTORSPORTS - JONES BATTLES HARD FOR FIRST XFINITY WIN

 

Erik Jones went head to head with Sprint Cup series regulars in Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

When the smoke cleared, Jones emerged victorious.

Jones, piloting the #20 GameStop Tpyota, beat out veteran drivers Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnardt Jr., to win his first Xfinity Series race in just his ninth series start.

Starting on the pole for the second time in 2015, Jones led 79 of the 200 lapsz in the race en route to the victory. Jones tuns a partial schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing and is a full time competitor in the NSCAR Camping World Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

"Confidence is something that I never doubted in myself," Jones told TV reporters following the win. "Getting here to victory lane is amazing. We beat Cup guys tonight, that is amazing and I can't wait for the rest of the year."

Jones held off a furious charge from former Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series champion Brad Keselowski on the race's final restart. Jones then took complete control of the race finishing almost two seconds ahead of Keselowski, who led 56 laps in the race.

β€œWe ran wide-open there for a couple laps,” Keselowski said. β€œIt was just a matter of who was gonna lift first. Neither of us lifted. He just cleared me and drove by me. Erik had a great car and did a fantastic job.”

"This is certainly a huge notch in his belt and I'm happy for him."

Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, was forced to start the race in the back due to repairs made to his car following qualifying. Keselowski made his starting position a non issue by racing to the lead on lap 48.

In the race's early stages, Jones battled with former xfinity series champion Dale Earnhardt, Jr, who led 25 laps and finished third.

"He definitely raced us hard and we raced him hard," Jones said.  "At the end of the day it worked out but it was pretty fun and we got to race against Dale Jr. Obviously he's a guy I've watched forever on Sundays on TV so to have my chance to race side-by-side with him is cool."

Earnhardt, Jr, driving the #88 Goody's Chevrolet, was impressed by the performance of the 18-year old.

"I thought Brad had the best car, but right when it counted Erik took off and drove a great race all night," Earnhardt, Jr, said. "I knew he was good, now everybody else knows."

Regan Smith finished fourth, followed by Austin Dillon, Darrell Wallace, Jr, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher and Brian Scott rounded out the top-ten.

With six races in the books, Ty Dillon maintains his xfinity series points lead by just two points over second place Chris Buescher. Defending xfinity series champion Chase Elliott is in third place 11 points behind.

Jones is not eligible for points in the Xfinity Series since he is not a full time competitor.

"I hope they all had fun, I know I had a blast," Jones said. "I learned a lot racing side by side with those Cup guys."

 

 

 

The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.

Categories: