Chase driver Brandon Jones involved in costly incident
Brandon Jones is involved in a costly incident with Justin Marks, becoming the first Chase driver sent to the garage at Kentucky Speedway.
Brandon Jones extends deal with RCR in XFINITY
WELCOME, N.C. -- Brandon Jones , 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase contender and Rookie of the Year candidate, has signed an agreement to remain with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in the XFINITY Series for the 2017 season. " Brandon has shown he has the talent behind the wheel to run up front and compete for championships in the XFINITY Series, and we are pleased he will continue to do so in an RCR Chevrolet," said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of RCR. "We are proud of everything he has accomplished this season, including leading laps, making the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase and contending for the Rookie of the Year title. Brandon has also been an excellent spokesman for our sponsors and does an exceptional job representing our brand. We can't wait to see what Brandon can do in his second full XFINITY Series season." In his first full year with RCR, Jones has recorded 11 top-10 finishes through the first 26 races and earned a spot in the XFINITY Series Chase. The 19-year-old driver scored an impressive sixth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , and also led 36 laps at Talladega Superspeedway in April. "I am honored to return to Richard Childress Racing for the 2017 season," Jones said. "RCR is such a storied NASCAR organization and it's a great opportunity to be a part of the team. Racing full-time in the XFINITY Series this season has been a valuable learning experience. I believe we have what it takes to compete for the championship throughout the Chase this season and make another run at the title in 2017. The teamwork and support from RCR, ECR Engines and Chevrolet have been second to none and instrumental in my development as a driver. I've also enjoyed representing several partners including Menards, Nexteer, Chevrolet, Okuma, Cometic, Roland and Rain-X." Before joining RCR as a full-time driver in 2016, Jones ran five XFINITY Series races in 2015, earning one top-five and two top-10 finishes, along with 16 laps led. The Atlanta, Georgia, native, has 30 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, recording five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He also has one NASCAR K&N East Series win and three ARCA Racing Series victories.
Sadler wins first XFINITY Chase race at Kentucky
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, KY – A huge push from Daniel Suárez on a restart with four laps to go in Saturday night's eventful VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 sent Elliott Sadler ahead of Ryan Blaney to win the opening race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Kentucky Speedway . Sadler's third win of the season and 13th of his XFINITY Series career was about more than just stamping his way into Round 2 of the Chase. The Emporia, Virginia, native fought for the win while thinking of his mother, Bell, who was released from the hospital Saturday, after a week of hospitalization and two surgeries. "We fought through a lot tonight," Sadler said in Victory Lane. "I'm going to get a little emotional on you, I've been in the hospital all week with my mom in ICU watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering. (She) made her way back home tonight to watch the race. Mom, I love you. She leads so much by example." Sadler also credited his team, who helped Sadler battle from outside the top 15 earlier in the race. "These guys are my heroes," Sadler said. "We had a 10th or 15th place car at best. Still had to come in and really take our time and work on it. Great pit calls by Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) and the guys to get us in position. Got a good push there at the end. I do want to say thanks to Josh Berry for helping me a ton tonight. That kid did some cool things on the restarts. This OneMain Financial team has no quit in them. We just fight till the end. This is a great way to start the Chase." Suárez, who finished second, said he struggled with a tight condition all night but was best at the end of the race. "Right at the end, we were pretty good, maybe just a little tight but we were strong," he said. "I feel like we were the fastest car out there at the end. I just needed one or two laps more to get the win." The inaugural XFINITY Series Chase race offered plenty of excitement and drama. With the "win and advance" format putting a greater premium on victories, drivers found themselves on the edge of control at a track where the racing groove was extremely tight since undergoing a repave in May. "At halfway, we were running 20th," Sadler said. "By my calculations, we were probably 10th or 11th in points, so to fight back that last 100 laps to gain that kind of momentum probably means a lot for us and these guys. I'm so proud of these guys. Dale (Earnhardt Jr., team owner) and Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller, team manager) and all of our partners for Hunt Bros., and Chevrolet and everyone that does so much for us at JR Motorsports. This is a great way to start off the Chase and keeps the momentum on our side, we can relax and go to Dover and have fun there and Charlotte and get ready for the second round." XFINITY Chase drivers Ty Dillon , Brandon Jones and Erik Jones all found themselves in a deep hole after being collected in accidents throughout a caution-filled race. Dillon and Erik Jones tangled while racing for second with 12 laps remaining. The event was red-flagged for five minutes, 34 seconds for cleanup of the Turn 3 incident. RELATED: See the wreck " Jones' take " Dillon's take Jones, the pole sitter who led a race-high 100 laps, took responsibility for the crash. "I just got sucked around," Jones said after the incident. "I tried to slow down but Ty was holding me down there pretty tight on the restart, slamming doors through (Turns) 1 and 2. It was my fault but it's a pretty tough aero situation to be in. "I just couldn't hang on to it. I tried to slow down but he kept slamming down on my door and I did all I could to hang on to it. It definitely looks like we're going to have to run really well at Dover and Charlotte or even win." Behind Sadler and Suárez, Sprint Cup rookie Ryan Blaney finished third while Sam Hornish Jr . and Matt Tifft completed the top five. Tifft, a NASCAR Next alumnus made his XFINITY Series return after undergoing brain surgery in July to remove a remove a benign, low-grade glioma. Sadler leaves Kentucky Speedway with an eight-point lead in the standings and guaranteed admission to the next round of the Chase at Kansas Speedway in three weeks. Suárez (+27 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Brendan Gaughan (+21), Ryan Reed (+19), Darrell Wallace Jr . (+19), Justin Allgaier (+17), Brennan Poole (+16), Blake Koch (+15), Erik Jones (-3), Ryan Sieg (-5), Brandon Jones (-15) and Ty Dillon (-15). &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Sam Hornish Jr. wants a win for RCR
RELATED: Meet the XFINITY Chase field SPARTA, Ky. – Sam Hornish may not be a threat in the NASCAR XFINITY Series inaugural Chase, but that doesn't mean the Richard Childress Racing driver isn't a concern. Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) officially kicks off the series' seven-race Chase. Hornish is making just his fourth start of the season, therefore he was not eligible for the 12-team Chase field. That hasn't keep him out of the winner's circle, however as he wheeled the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing to the win at Iowa. And in two subsequent starts with the No. 2 team for RCR, Hornish has finished sixth and second. He's making start No. 3 in the No. 2 Chevrolet for RCR here at Kentucky. And the 37-year-old was once again fast here Friday, clocking the third-fastest lap in each of the day's two practice sessions. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones was quickest in both practice sessions. "It was pretty good," Hornish said of the results at day's end. "The car started off a little bit free in the afternoon, but it was so hot. I felt like we got just a little bit behind there in the last practice but our car is good, it's got decent balance; we just need a little bit to be able to run with the JGR cars." Hornish has four top-10 finishes in five XFINITY Series starts at the 1.5-mile Kentucky track. His racing career, which includes three IndyCar championships, got a major boost here in 2000 when he finished ninth after running out of fuel late in the race. That effort opened eyes and doors, and soon his open-wheel career was off and running. His NASCAR career has included stints in Sprint Cup and the XFINITY Series; he also has one start in the Camping World Truck Series. "Right now this is the last (race) I have scheduled ... we've had a good run," he said of the RCR arrangement. "It's a good car, they've got some wins and they continue to build momentum. I'd like to go to Victory Lane for them for sure. "They're running for an owners' championship so we have to be smart about everything we do as well." JGR teammates Jones and Daniel Suarez are seeded first and third in the Chase, respectively, with veteran Elliott Sadler (JR Motorsports) wedged in between. Ty Dillon , teammate to Hornish, is seeded fourth while Justin Allgaier (JRM) is fifth. Darrell Wallace ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Brendan Gaughan (RCR), Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing), Ryan Reed (RFR), Brandon Jones (RCR) and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing) round out the 12-team Chase field. "We were able to make some good gains mostly in race conditions," said Jones, who will be seeking his fifth win of the season on Saturday. "It wasn't so much that we needed the speed, we needed to find some drivability in it and I think we (did). ... "It's going to change a lot once it cools all the way down and we get into race conditions but I feel pretty good about it." Except for the number of races, the XFINITY Series Chase mirrors that of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, with three-race segments leading up to a one-race finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
Erik Jones holds off Larson to win at Chicagoland
RELATED: Complete race results " Series standings " Chase Grid JOLIET, Ill. – Kyle Busch opened the door, and that was all the invitation Erik Jones needed. When Busch, the polesitter for Saturday's Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway , spun with a tire down while leading on Lap 182 of 200, Jones took full advantage of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate's misfortune. The driver of the No. 20 JGR Toyota restarted sixth on Lap 187 after Busch brought out the eighth caution of the afternoon and quickly closed the gap on Elliott Sadler , who restarted second and grabbed the lead from JR Motorsports teammate Clint Bowyer , who had stayed out on old tires like Sadler. Jones caught and passed Sadler on Lap 192. Race runner-up Kyle Larson followed four laps later but couldn't catch Jones before the finish. In the final four laps, Jones moved up the track to take Larson's preferred racing line and crossed the finish line .392 seconds ahead of Larson, who brushed the outside wall on the final lap while trying to close in on the race winner. "It was tough," said Jones, who won for the second time at the 1.5-mile track and the fourth time in his rookie year. "I knew we were in a good spot on tires, but we pretty far back – think we restarted sixth there. "I didn't know if my Hisense Camry was going to have enough time to get back up to the front, but we had a really good restart and got clear to third and then just had to go chase Elliott down. It was a matter of time before we got around him. What an awesome day!" With four victories this season, Jones enters the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase as the No. 1 seed heading to the Chase opener next Saturday at Kentucky Speedway . "It's a lot of momentum," Jones said. "I wish this was our first round right here. We'll go into Kentucky definitely with a full head of steam and are due for another win there. Our mile-and-a-half program is great – it's been great all year. "To finally get a first mile-and-a-half win of the year – just looking forward to getting to Kentucky next weekend and try to chase down another one." Saturday's event finalized the 12-driver Chase field, as Blake Koch and Ryan Sieg clinched the final two spots with finishes of 15th and 12th, respectively. The full Chase field, in order of seeding, consists of Erik Jones , Sadler, Daniel Suarez , Ty Dillon , Justin Allgaier , Darrell Wallace Jr ., Brendan Gaughan , Brennan Poole , Sieg, Ryan Reed , Brandon Jones and Koch. Sadler finished third on Saturday, followed by Suarez and Allgaier. Larson recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to record his eighth top-five finish in 12 starts this year. "I knew I could get the top (lane) going, but I knew when I got the top going, Erik would move up just when I got to him," Larson said. "He did, and I tried to carry a lot of throttle off of (Turn) 2 and maybe get a run on him, but I got into the wall." Busch led 154 laps and recovered from his spin to finish 13th. All told, 11 different drivers led at least one lap, including the top eight drivers in the finishing order. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
XFINITY race winners carrying extra Chase confidence
RELATED: See the XFINITY Chase Grid " Every '16 winner " Get to know the field CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Of the 12 drivers that make up this year's NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase field, only three won races during the "regular" season, so the fact that the three appeared to be feeling pretty good about their chances Tuesday during media day activities at the NASCAR Hall of Fame came as no surprise. Erik Jones , 20, won more races than anyone not named Kyle Busch , four to be exact, and most folks here seemed to agree, some more grudgingly than others, that the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team is the one to beat. Veteran Elliott Sadler won twice, and the Emporia, Virginia native has been around the track a few times. His career, in fact, was already underway when the Jones family welcomed young Erik into the world. Sadler's wins in the No. 1 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports came this year at Talladega and Darlington and Sadler is the only guy in the field who can say he was in the inaugural Chase for both the premier series and the XFINITY Series. Daniel Suarez , Jones' teammate, earned his first series victory at Michigan. He enters the seven-race playoff, which begins with this weekend’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), with three top-five finishes in his last four starts. The other result was a top-10 so Suarez and the No. 19 team appear to be on top of their game as well. No one is conceding anything just yet however. Not the Richard Childress Racing trio of Ty Dillon , Brendan Gaughan or Brandon Jones ; Sadler’s JRM teammate Justin Allgaier or Roush Fenway Racing ’s Darrell Wallace Jr . and Ryan Reed . Even single-team entrants Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing), and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing) spoke of the potential for advancing from one round to the next and keeping title hopes alive. "I don't know if that's good or bad," a grinning Sadler said of his dual Chase experience. "I do remember being part of the first ever (Sprint) Cup Chase and now this one. It's pretty cool." The benefits of that 2004 experience are limited, but useful nonetheless. "It's not like I'm a seasoned quarterback that can read the defense better than a rookie quarterback," Sadler said. "I think that's when experience plays a part. Now it's just about which teams can get their cars the fastest, what driver can give the best information and not make mistakes on the track. Everybody that's part of this Chase can do just as good of a job as anybody else, no matter their age or where they are from or how many years they've raced. I don't think that's a big part of it. "The only thing I think I know is the difference in the intensity level; that's the biggest thing I remember about being a part of the ( Sprint Cup ) Chase. The next week it was like 'holy cow, it's flipped the switch.' Not only racing other guys but your team, what they are going through, the driver, the communication. It's like everything is set to fast forward … and you have to understand how to communicate at such a different level." Jones is coming off a 2015 season that saw the Byron, Michigan native win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, and he’s headed for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in ’17 as a teammate with Martin Truex Jr . at Furniture Row Racing . Six times this season, he and Suarez have finished a race with both cars in the top five. In 13 other races, at least one of the two have finished fifth or higher. The teammate tag doesn't go out the window with the Chase now at hand. But both, along with 10 others, are racing for a shot at a single prize. "It's tough; the teammate deal is always tough in racing," Jones said. "… There are times when you have to race like teammates and times your race as competitors. It's a tough balance for sure, but it's also nice when you go to the race track and you have other drivers to lean on, you can get information from and better each other. "Hopefully we're both in Homestead chasing the championship." Suarez also understands the benefits that come with a competitive teammate and agreed that "it's hard to balance out because both of us want to race hard for wins. "I think we're going to be in good shape," he said. "Both of us have a good shot to be competitive every single weekend for the Chase." </p>
XFINITY, Camping World Truck Chase-clinching scenarios for Chicagoland
XFINITY SERIES The XFINITY Series regular season finale, the Drive for Safety 300 , takes place Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway at 3 p.m. ET (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), while the Sprint Cup Series Chase Grid was set last week at Richmond International Speedway. RELATED: See the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Grid An 11th-place finish at Richmond allowed Roush Fenway Racing 's Ryan Reed to clinch at Chase spot, leaving two spots available for clinching this weekend at Chicagoland. Erik Jones , Elliott Sadler , Daniel Suarez , Justin Allgaier , Ty Dillon , Brendan Gaughan , Brennan Poole , Brandon Jones and Darrell Wallace Jr . have also clinched Chase spots. All of the following drivers could also automatically clinch with a win. Possible to Clinch: • Blake Koch (0 Wins, 570 Points, 449 Points Ahead of 31st): Koch could earn a Chase berth by tallying 39 points -- achieved by finishing 2nd with no laps led, third with at least one lap led or fourth with the most laps led -- and a new winner at Chicagoland. He could also earn a berth with a repeat winner and 19 points, achieved by finishing 22nd with no laps led, 23rd with at least one lap led and 24th with the most laps led. • Ryan Sieg (0 Wins, 567 Points, 446 Points Ahead of 31st): Sieg could clinch on points at Chicagoland with a repeat winner/ Blake Koch win and 22 points, achieved by finishing 19th with no laps led, 20th with at least one lap led or 21st with most laps led. He would need some help to clinch with a new winner at Chicagoland. • Dakoda Armstrong (0 Wins, 547 Points, 426 Points Ahead of 31st): Armstrong needs help to clinch on points. • Jeremy Clements (0 Wins, 538 Points, 417 Points Ahead of 31st): Clements needs help to clinch on points. The following need a win to clinch a Chase spot: Ross Chastain , Ryan Preece , Ray Black Jr ., BJ McLeod , Joey Gase . Camping World Truck Ser ies The Camping World Truck Series regular season finale, the American Ethanol e15 225, takes place Friday at Chicagoland Speedway at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Possible to Clinch: • Daniel Hemric (0 Wins, 374 Points, 305 Points Ahead of 31st) - Would clinch on points with 10 points (23rd and no laps led, 24th and led at least one lap, 25th and led most laps) and a new winner. Would clinch on points with a repeat winner, regardless of finish. With a win, they would clinch a Chase spot on wins. • Timothy Peters (0 Wins, 350 Points, 281 Points Ahead of 31st) - Would clinch on points with a repeat winner (or a win by Daniel Hemric ) and 2 Points (31st and no laps led, 32nd and led at least one lap). With a win, he would clinch a Chase spot on wins. Could clinch on points with a new winner and help (needs to outpoint Daniel Hemric by six points (Peters owns the tie-breaker). • Cole Custer (0 Wins, 318 Points, 249 Points Ahead of 31st) - With a win, he would clinch a Chase spot on wins. Could clinch on points with a repeat winner (or win by Daniel Hemric ) and help (needs to outpoint Timothy Peters by 32 points (Custer owns the tie-breaker). The following need a win to clinch a Chase spot: Cameron Hayley , Tyler Reddick , Ben Rhodes , Spencer Gallagher , Rico Abreu, Austin Wayne Self, Travis Kvapil and Jordan Anderson .
2016 XFINITY Series Chase field
RELATED: Chase Grid " Every 2016 race winner The NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Grid was set with the end of the 26-race regular season on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway . This year marks the first time the XFINITY Series will use the elimination-style format that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has used since 2014. The XFINITY Series Chase will be three rounds and opens next weekend at Kentucky Speedway . The Round of 12 will consist of races at Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte, where two drivers will be eliminated from the field. The Round of 8 will consist of races at Kansas, Texas and Phoenix, where two drivers will be eliminated from the field, setting the stage for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. Here's who comprises the field. NASCAR announced the seeding and the points shortly after the finish of the Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway . 1. Erik Jones , No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (four wins, 2012 points) 2. Elliott Sadler , No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet (two wins, 2006 points) 3. Daniel Suarez , No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (one win, 2003 points) 4. Ty Dillon , No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points) 5. Justin Allgaier , No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points) 6. Darrell Wallace Jr ., No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (on points, 2000 points) 7. Brendan Gaughan , No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points) 8. Brennan Poole , No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points) 9. Ryan Sieg , No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points) 10. Ryan Reed , No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (on points, 2000 points) 11. Brandon Jones , No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points) 12. Blake Koch , No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points) &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Brandon Jones slips up early in NXS practice
Brandon Jones makes contact with the wall at Kentucky Speedway during practice for the ALSCO 300, forcing him to a backup car for the race.
Experience surrounds Brandon Jones' rise at RCR
RELATED: Series standings " See how the XFINITY Chase Grid looks Photo credit: (HHP/Gregg Ellman) For any rookie there is always a bit of a learning curve, but for Brandon Jones he has several veterans surrounding him to help guide the way in his first full NASCAR season. One of the younger drivers in the garage, 19-year-old Jones pilots the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He's fifth in the standings with seven top 10s ahead of next weekend's Subway Firecracker 250 (July 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). At RCR, Jones has a stable of teammates with a variety of experience in Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Chevrolet) and the brothers Dillon, Ty (No. 3 Chevrolet) and Austin (No. 2 Chevrolet) as well as Paul Menard (No. 2 Chevrolet) to lean on for advice and guidance. "The biggest thing everybody's helped me out with is not coming so much to the tracks I've been to in the past, but the tracks that we haven't seen so far," Jones said at Iowa Speedway last week . "People like Brendan and all the teammates really they help me out a lot. We've got a lot of notes from previous years from everybody that goes to driver debriefs so I have that to kind of go over and look through. They are just always there to help me out if they see something." Gaughan, who has 20 years of NASCAR experience, shares an easy rapport with the young Jones as evidenced by their willingness to play off their similar first names and their exchange when the elder statesman of the RCR team asked Jones how old he was during a recent press conference. When Jones answered, 40-year-old Gaughan buried his head in his hand. Just past halfway in the regular season of the XFINITY Series, Gaughan likes what he has seen from Jones. "When he goes out and runs top 10 just about every week, it's not like you need to keep giving him a lot of coaching," Gaughan said. "You just want to try to keep the head on straight, keep him pointed in the right direction -- and he does a good job of that already to begin with." Jones also has the experience to draw on from crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. atop his pit box. Hillman comes from a racing background but he used another sport to describe how the young driver gets ready, especially for a track that's new to him. Coming into this season, Jones, a Georgia native, had 30 NASCAR national series starts split between the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. "It's kind of like being a quarterback; he watches a lot of game film, a lot of in-car camera stuff and the races that have been run at the racetracks before to try and be on top of it before we ever get here," Hillman told NASCAR.com at Iowa. Hillman notices the cool and calm demeanor with which Jones carries himself. The duo bonded away from the track as well and Hillman, age 37 and a father of three, has welcomed Jones into his family. "To have the age difference between the two of us, but to have a lot of things in common and enjoy a lot of things outside of racing, it's really cool to be able to hang out and grow together," Hillman said. Hillman, a New York native, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from working primarily in the Camping World Truck Series and winning two championships with Todd Bodine , as well as working with young drivers such as Kyle Larson , Jeb Burton , Cameron Hayley and Ben Rhodes . Last season, Hillman was atop the pit box for Brian Scott and the No. 2 team at RCR in the XFINITY Series. Under Hillman's guidance, Jones is in a comfortable position to be one of the 12 drivers competing in the debut of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, which begins Sept. 24 at Kentucky Speedway . While Jones has been consistent in averaging a finish of 11.4 -- fifth-best among XFINITY Series regulars -- he has yet to record a top-five finish in 2016, and has been out front for just 36 laps (all coming at Talladega in April) . Those are among the next steps Hillman wants to see Jones make as the series gets closer to the postseason. "We have to take our eighth-, ninth- and 10th-place finishes and make them fourth, fifths and sixths," Hillman said. "And then once we do that, we can start making them firsts, seconds and thirds, and just take it a step at a time. Hopefully, if we keep doing that and progressing the way we are, by the time we get to the Chase, we're in a spot to be in contention."