Jon Housholder recaps the Oreilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway as Erik Jones captures his first XFINITY Series win and the first win for Joe Gibbs Racing in the 2015 season
Erik Jones makes a great move on the final restart to keep the lead and goes on to win his first XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Erik Jones talks about winning the Oreilly Auto Parts 300 and finishing ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Erik Jones celebrates a win Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway in only his 9th career XFINITY Series start.
JGR driver has been splitting time in Nos. 20 and 54 cars Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Erik Jones sure knows how to make an entrance. Five races into his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in 2013, he scored his first national series win. Seven races into his NASCAR XFINITY Series career, he earned his first top-five. Both came at Phoenix International Raceway with the latter coming in last Saturday's Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 . Jones earned a top-five finish at the 1-mile oval, filling in for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota. The result was even more welcome as it came a week after late contact from Ryan Blaney derailed his chances for a win and a top-five at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . "It's nice to finally get the finishes I thought we deserved," Jones said. "We struggled with getting caught up in people's messes early on." Jones qualified third for the race and spent much of the opening half of the race in the top five. Other teams' strategy plays saw Jones cycle back to ninth on Lap 120 before he made a charge of his own to get back into the top five by Lap 150. From there, he had to hold off points leader Ty Dillon for the final spot in the top five. "The Monster Energy Camry was fast -- just got behind on adjustments all day. We were tight early and freed it up and just got too free. On the last stop, we wanted to go back and make sure it was going to be snug enough because on those restarts you have to try to get so much and when you're free you just can't make anything happen." Fast pit road times did benefit Jones . He spent the second-lowest amount of time on pit road (2:00:001 for an average of 40.000 seconds during his three stops). The young driver is no stranger to success at Phoenix. He now has two finishes of fifth and sixth in the XFINITY Series as well as two wins in the Camping World Truck Series at the track. "It always helps when you have experience at a place, especially confidence with a race win. I definitely think it helped me out a little bit." The 18-year-old is running full-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, while running a part-time slate in the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing . In the XFINITY Series, Jones is bouncing between the Nos. 20 and 54 Toyota, due to Busch's recovery from a compound fracture to his right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot suffered in a late-race accident in the XFINITY opener at Daytona. Busch's injury led to Jones picking up a few more XFINITY starts until his mentor returns. "We've been fortunate enough to run every race. So far, it's been fairly easy. The only roadblock, I guess you'd say, would be switching between the 54 and the 20, which really hasn't been too big of a deal. Two great race teams. When you go back and forth, it definitely makes it easier when your cars are fast." Jones will be back behind the wheel of the No. 20 XFINITY Series Toyota on March 21 at Auto Club Speedway for the Drive4Clots.com 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). His next turn in the No. 54 will come at Richmond International Raceway in April. "It's nice to finally get a finish after having a couple rough weeks and then come back and hopefully gives us some momentum going into Fontana next weekend." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Will start alongside Brian Scott in Drive4Clots.com 300 (4 p.m. ET, FS1) RESULTS: Full lineup Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones picked up his first career XFINITY Series pole, topping all three rounds of qualifying Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Jones ’ best speed of 178.288 mph in the final round was enough to top the field of 12 drivers who advanced past the first two rounds. Brian Scott was the next fastest at 177.686 mph and will start alongside Jones' No. 20 Toyota on front row. Denny Hamlin , driving the No. 54 JGR Toyota for the injured Kyle Busch , will start third alongside Team Penske 's Brad Keselowski in the second row. Kyle Larson , the defending race-winner, will start 11th after running at a clip of 175.050 mph. Defending series champion Chase Elliott did not advance to the final round of qualifying and will start 13th alongside Chris Buescher . For the second day in a row, on-track activity was halted due to a driver's car leaking oil on the track. After Mike Bliss dropped fluid during yesterday's second practice session, promptly spinning out both Ryan Reed and Kyle Larson , it was Derrike Cope whose No. 70 engine blew up during qualifying. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The 18-year-old driver will be running his first full season in the Truck Series Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Erik Jones ' progression in the early stages of his career at the NASCAR national series level has validated his inclusion in the NASCAR Next class of up-and-comers. Documenting the progress, however, has been a sporadic process due in large part to his part-time schedule the last two years. Entering 2015, the 18-year-old Jones has a chance to see what he can do over the course of a full campaign as he embarks on his first complete season for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The goals are ambitious -- they involve being competitive with two-time champion Matt Crafton , the benchmark of the series the last two seasons. "On the truck side of things, definitely the driver's championship. I don't see a reason why we couldn't compete for that with Matt," Jones said during last week's Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom. "He's going to be tough to beat and he's shown it the last two seasons. He's just extremely consistent and that's probably something we're going to have to adjust a little bit for. We've been a little erratic at times, but I don't see why we can't go out and be more consistent and be able to run top-five every week and have a strong average finish, and at the same time win a few races along the way." Jones has been steadier than he gives himself credit for, even in just a limited time in NASCAR's national tours. He already has four Camping World Truck Series victories in just 17 career starts, and made his first foray into the NASCAR XFINITY Series last season with three top-10s in his first three efforts. For all of his national series appearances, Jones has finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 20 races. Jones is scheduled to run the No. 4 Toyota for KBM, which has won the series' team owner championship the last two years running. Jones played a large part in helping last year's cause, but says taking square aim at unseating Crafton for the driver's title will require keeping both errors and bad luck to a minimum. "It's not going to be easy by any means, and it's going to come down to really who is the most consistent, and who can consistently finish a little bit better than the other," Jones said. "He's not going to be a guy to go out and wreck out of four or five races in a season, he's going to probably finish every one of them and not wreck, and he's probably going to finish all of them pretty close to the top-five, if not in the top-five, and he's probably going to win a race or two. I think we just have to match that and best it at a few places and try to put ourselves in the best position going into Homestead." Jones grew up in multiple ways last year, earning his high school diploma in a cap and gown during pre-race driver introductions at Texas Motor Speedway , just one week after his 18th birthday. The latter milestone gave him NASCAR clearance to race on tracks of 1.25 miles or longer, opening up more opportunities to gain experience. His rapid learning pace has helped him secure a 10-race schedule this year with Toyota affiliate Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series, a circuit where he aims to make the most of being on the track. "Just getting more seat time," Jones said. "It's obviously a bigger step to the XFINITY Series than I thought it would be, not to say that I don't think we'll figure it out along the way. I think if by the end of the season, if we could at least be in the mix and competing for wins, that would be a great step for us." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
18-year-old driver wanted more from strong Daytona run Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Erik Jones wrapped up his 2014 Camping World Truck Series campaign with his third win of the season, putting a stomping on the field to the tune of 114 of 126 laps led in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway. The 18-year-old Kyle Busch Motorsports driver then finished second in Friday night's 2015 season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway, making a last-lap move to position himself for -- albeit coming up just short of -- the win. Bookending seasons with an average finish of 1.5 in a pair of races? Surely, any driver would take that. However, the highly-touted NASCAR Next wheelman wasn't satisfied. "I wish we could have won the race; that's first off," Jones said on pit road following the race. "… It's unfortunate for us to finish second any day, but it's a good run for us. We just wanted to come in here and have a good day, solid day to start off the year. "Second is a great start to the season and we did what we wanted to. We came in here and didn't get wrecked and put ourselves in a position not to be making up all year." That second-place finish was looking like a certain fourth for the latter chunk of the 100-mile event, as the Brad Keselowski Racing duo of race-winner Tyler Reddick and Austin Theriault had a lock on the 1-2 spots ahead of the field. Jones said his final lap strategy was to lay back through Turns 3 and 4, hopeful that if Theriault ended up making a move on his teammate -- which is what ended up happening -- he could pull his No. 4 Toyota Tundra off both of them and attempt to make his way to the front. "It worked up to second, but just couldn't quite get to the lead," he said. Give him one more lap and there's a good chance he puts his truck in Victory Lane. Considering it was just Jones' second career restrictor-plate race, there are still lessons to be learned from finishing a position lower than he'd prefer, particularly from his experienced team owner, who has been offering his sage advice to his young padawan. "Just lots of listening. Lots of listening," Jones said. "Really talked to Kyle a lot about it last year before Talladega. Talked to him more about it here. Read a lot of data that Toyota gives us. Try to apply it all in real‑time. "I think everybody kind of knows the basics of drafting. It's not extremely complicated. It's just a matter of being able to process those during the race and being able to remember all the things you've gathered about it. Actually, I don't mind plate racing. I enjoy it. I had fun tonight. Would have had a lot more fun if we came home one position higher." You see? At all times -- Jones is focused on nothing but winning. It's the same mentality that all of NASCAR's greats shared, and one that bodes well for the future of a talented young driver that is quickly rising within the sport's ranks -- he finished 18th in Saturday's Alert Today Florida 300 XFINITY Series event. While the first win of 2015 will have to wait, it was still crucial for Jones to escape Daytona without digging himself into a points hole, something that he and his team knew could be a possibility. Instead, his momentum remains in tact and the team will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway for next weekend's Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). "That was pretty important to us," the Michigan native said. "We talked about it for the last couple weeks. When you start off Daytona and get wrecked or whatever, say you finish 30th, it really gives you a hole to dig out of for really the next four races, even if you run those well. "It's pretty important to finish well here, just get good momentum going for your season. It's my first full‑time season." Atlanta is similarly configured to the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he picked up his second win of the year in 2014. Needless to say, he's looking forward to it. "Atlanta is going to be fun. I think our mile‑and‑a‑half program is pretty strong. It was really strong last year. I think we can probably go out and hopefully contend for a win." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Look back at the top five moments from the race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway as 18-year-old Erik Jones wins his first career XFINITY Series race and Jimmie Johnson collects his fifth cowboy hat at Texas.
Ryan Blaney gets loose off turn 2 and connects with Erik Jones , sending him head first into the outside wall at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.