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Erik Jones Successfully Defends Phoenix Win in Shortened Lucas Oil 150

Erik Jones Successfully Defends Phoenix Win in Shortened Lucas Oil 150

by November 8, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images

AVONDALE, Ariz. — In a bizarre ending to a race plagued with various delays, Erik Jones was declared the winner of the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway after NASCAR called the race 24 laps shy of its scheduled distance.

NASCAR officials pulled the plug on the 150-lap race after a power outage at the track took out the lights around the race course. The start of the Lucas Oil 150 would be delayed for an hour due to a similar outage that took out some of the lights around the track.

Prior to the calling of the race, Jones put on a clinic on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series field in his No. 51 Dollar General Toyota – leading 114 of the 126 completed laps around the one-mile speedway.

The win is the fourth of Jones’ career in the Camping World Truck Series and his third this season. Jones’ victory also comes as a successful defense of his Lucas Oil 150 win from last year, a race that he scored his first career victory in.

“An interesting night for sure,” Jones said. “We had a great Dollar General Tundra all day and yesterday through practice as well as qualifying on the pole there. Really felt like we had a good shot at the win and we stayed out front most of the night and kind of controlled our race – ran our pace and definitely felt like we had a great truck. We didn’t really make many adjustments on it at all – it was fast on the start.

“Just a great truck. KBM did an awesome job getting it ready and we were able to go out and bring home the win. That’s pretty awesome for us to go back-to-back here – that’s actually four-in-a-row for KBM now here and breaking the win record for the year at 13. Just pretty cool to be a part of it all.”

Finishing behind Jones within the top-10 of the results were Matt Crafton, Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney, Ben Rhodes, Darrell Wallace Jr., John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Dillon, Johnny Sauter, and Tyler Reddick.

Custer had an eventful evening on his way to his third-place finish. The driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet slowly picked his way through the field as the race drew to its eventual close and engaged in a tremendous battle with fellow youngster John Hunter Nemechek.

The two drivers would have some contact with one another heading into Turn 1 with a hard enough impact to knock in a fender on Nemechek’s No. 8 Toyota, causing a tire rub.

In his post-race press conference, Custer apologized about the contact.

“I thought we really had something for those top-two guys in those last few laps – just never had a shot, I guess,” Custer said. “Racing real hard with John Hunter – I’m really sorry with what happened to him, getting into him going into Turn 1 and I didn’t mean to do that. It was hard racing and I think stuff happens.”

Second-place finisher Crafton slightly extended his points lead heading into the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 Menards/Hormel Toyota enters next Friday’s Ford Ecoboost 200 with a 25-point lead over fifth-place finisher Blaney. No other driver in the points standings is mathematically within range of winning the championship.

Despite putting himself in a position where he only needs to finish 21st-or-better at Homestead to wrap up his second consecutive series title, Crafton feels as if he was robbed of an opportunity to earn his third victory of the season with the race being called early.

“The No. 51 definitely had the best truck on the long run,” Crafton said. “I made some adjustments at the end; damn shame that the lights had to go out, I said that we were mirroring each other on that little short run right there, I messed with the blowers and I got my stuff to come to me pretty good.

“I knew if I could get in front of him, I could guarantee you [he wasn’t] going to get back by me. It’s a damn shame that the lights went out, because it was going to be exciting – I promise you – on the next restart.”

Friday night’s race had the Camping World Truck Series field endure through seven different caution periods and one red flag period.

Before the field completed a single lap, John Wes Townley, German Quiroga, Justin Jennings, and Bryan Silas would stack up on the frontstretch in a chain-reaction accident that inflicted heavy body damage on Townley and Quiroga’s trucks and dropped fluid on the track. NASCAR would run the race 16 laps under the first caution as safety crews would work on the track in a lengthy cleanup period.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Rhodes would bring out the second caution of the night for a solo spin off of Turn 2 on Lap 22 while a multi-car accident involving Spencer Gallagher, Jeb Burton, and Timothy Peters would occur on Lap 28.

Gallagher’s GMS Racing teammate, Joey Coulter, would lose a tire on Lap 42 and spun into the Turn 3 wall, making heavy contact. The red flag would be displayed for three minutes and 45 seconds as safety crews worked to clean the track of fluid from Coulter’s damaged No. 21 Chevrolet.

Brennan Newberry went for a spin with the accidental assistance of Nemechek on Lap 101 while Silas found himself involved in another caution as he went for a solo spin on Lap 114.

The final caution of the night was displayed due to the power suddenly cutting out at the track as the field raced at full speed.

21 races down in the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season and only one race remains – the Ford Ecoboost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 134-lap race is scheduled to take place next Friday evening at 8:00 p.m ET.

Top-10 Finishers of the Lucas Oil 150

  1. 51 – Erik Jones – Toyota – Kyle Busch Motorsports
  2. 88 – Matt Crafton – Toyota – ThorSport Racing
  3. 00 – Cole Custer – Chevrolet – Haas Racing Development
  4. 29 – Ryan Blaney – Ford – Brad Keselowski Racing
  5. 32 – Ben Rhodes – Chevrolet – Turner Scott Motorsports
  6. 54 – Darrell Wallace Jr. – Toyota – Kyle Busch Motorsports
  7. 8 – John Hunter Nemechek – Toyota – SWM-NEMCO Motorsports
  8. 14 – Austin Dillon(i) – Chevrolet – NTS Motorsports
  9. 98 – Johnny Sauter – Toyota – ThorSport Racing
  10. 19 – Tyler Reddick# – Ford – Brad Keselowski Racing

Top-10 in the Drivers’ Standings after Round 21 of 22

  1. 88 – Matt Crafton – ThorSport Racing – 798 | Leader
  2. 29 – Ryan Blaney – Brad Keselowski Racing – 773 | -25
  3. 54 – Darrell Wallace Jr. – Kyle Busch Motorsports – 752 | -46
  4. 98 – Johnny Sauter – ThorSport Racing – 739 | -59
  5. 17 – Timothy Peters – Red Horse Racing – 705 | -93
  6. 21 – Joey Coulter – GMS Racing – 659 | -139
  7. 77 – German Quiroga – Red Horse Racing – 654 | -144
  8. 31 – Ben Kennedy# – Turner Scott Motorsports – 652 | -146
  9. 13 – Jeb Burton – ThorSport Racing – 648 | -150
  10. 15 – Mason Mingus# – Billy Boat Motorsports – 530 | -268

# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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