Field Can’t Keep Up With Jones In Phoenix
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Erik Jones became the youngest winning in the history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday, driving to victory in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
Jones, who made a name for himself last December when he outdrove Kyle Busch to win the Snowball Derby at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway, is just 17 years, five months and nine days old.
Jones was dominant throughout much of the race, but had his work cut out for him trying to track down pole winner Ross Chastain on a late-race restart. Chastain was able to get by Jones on an earlier restart and held the lead for the final restart with 10 laps to go.
The battle was furious on the restart with Chastain making the inside line work. He held the lead through turn one and was able to slide in front of Jones off of turn two. Jones gained the momentum down the back straight and was all over Chastain’s bumper headed into turn three, but the youngster showed patience.
As Brendan Gaughan and Ty Dillon battled for fourth, Jones stalked Chastain and was able to flex his muscle once more, flashing by Chastain on the front stretch to retake the lead for the final time. Chastain was never able to challenge and Jones drove the No. 51 Wake Up Narcolepsy Toyota to victory.
“This is unbelievable,” Jones said from victory lane. “It’s all I ever wanted – to be a winner in NASCAR. I don’t think it has even set in yet. I couldn’t be happier right now. This is what it is all about.”
Chastain finished second, followed by Gaughan third, Dillon and points leader Matt Crafton rounding out the top five.
Crafton’s fifth place finish all but locked up the 2013 series championship for the veteran driver. He only has to start next week’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and he will be the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.
Ron Hornaday, who crashed hard into the outside wall after blowing a right front tire midway through the race, confirmed in a post-crash interview that he will not be driving the No. 9 for NTS Motorsports next weekend at Homestead. He instead will be driving an entry fielded by Turner Scott Motorsports.