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Erik Jones Holds Off Sprint Cup Series Regulars In Texas For First NASCAR XFINITY Series Victory

Erik Jones Holds Off Sprint Cup Series Regulars In Texas For First NASCAR XFINITY Series Victory

by April 11, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images

By: Hunter Thomas
Twitter: @HunterThomas08

FORT WORTH, Tex. – Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota made a statement on Friday night when he put the bumper to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and held off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars en route to his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win during the O’Reilly Auto Parts at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones, who only has nine starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, came up through ranks, as well as through the NASCAR Next program. He competes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on a regular basis for Kyle Busch Motorsports, earning four wins so far throughout his career. On Friday night at only 18 years, 10 months and 11 days old, he became the second youngest winner at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I don’t even know what to say right now,” Jones said in victory lane. “It’s surreal! That confidence has been something that I’ve never doubted in myself. I’ve always believed in myself as I’ve grown up. Sitting here in victory lane at Texas in the XFINITY Series – it’s amazing, just amazing. We beat Cup guys tonight. That’s huge for us, huge for our team. I never once doubted in these guys. I knew from the start that this is going to be a good deal. It’s definitely showing now. I can’t wait for the rest of the year. I think we’re going to be hopefully seeing us some more often.”

Throughout the night, Jones led on six occasions for 79 laps after starting from the pole. Not long after the halfway mark, it was Jones who was putting the bumper to Dale Earnhardt Jr., showing the world that he is competing for wins and is here to stay. Jones was the only driver to finish inside the top-five on Friday night who had no experience in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.

“We had an awesome GameStop Toyota Camry from the start of it, but man, he (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) raced us hard,” Jones said. “We threw it right back and raced right back with him. I hope he had fun, I had a blast. I know I came out on the better end, but it was so much fun racing hard like that with all those guys. They’ve been doing it so long and know exactly what they’re doing. I’m just trying to figure most of it out. I learned a lot by racing side-by-side with those guys. Just so happy right now to get a win this early in the season in the XFINITY Series.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second and third respectively. Regan Smith finished fourth, followed by Austin Dillon rounding out the top-five.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 had 15 lead changes between eight drivers. Jones led the most laps (79) throughout the race. Brad Keselowski led on two occasions for 56 laps, and Brian Scott led 26 laps. Dale Earnhardt Jr. led on three occasions for 25 laps.

There were only six cautions on Friday night, and the only caution for a multi-car accident occurred on lap 169 after Cale Conley blew a tire while racing underneath Brendan Gaughan. The blown tire sent Conley hard into Gaughan, who then slammed the Turn 2 wall.

Ty Dillon continues to hold the lead in the point standings. He leads Chris Buescher by only two points. Chase Elliott is third, 11 points back from Dillon.

On Saturday, April 18, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will visit Bristol Motor Speedway for the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300. Live coverage of the event will air on FOX Sports 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET.

O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Results:
1.) #20 Erik Jones
2.) #22 Brad Keselowski
3.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4.) #7 Regan Smith
5.) #33 Austin Dillon
6.) #6 Darrell Wallace Jr.
7.) #54 Denny Hamlin
8.) #9 Chase Elliott
9.) #60 Chris Buescher
10.) #2 Brian Scott
11.) #1 Elliott Sadler
12.) #3 Ty Dillon
13.) #42 Brennan Poole
14.) Sam Hornish Jr.
15.) #16 Ryan Reed
16.) #43 Dakoda Armstrong
17.) #25 John Wes Townley
18.) #18 Daniel Suarez
19.) #28 JJ Yeley
20.) #39 Ryan Sieg
21.) #4 Ross Chastain
22.) #51 Jeremy Clements
23.) #44 David Starr
24.) #19 Mike Bliss
25.) #01 Landon Cassill
26.) #55 Brandon Gdovic
27.) #0 Harrison Rhodes
28.) #90 Mario Gosselin
29.) #24 Eric McClure
30.) #97 Peyton Sellers
31.) #52 Joey Gase
32.) #8 Blake Koch
33.) #62 Brendan Gaughan
34.) #14 Cale Conley
35.) #13 Timmy Hill
36.) #70 Derrike Cope
37.) #15 Stanton Barrett
38.) #10 Jeff Green
39.) #40 Derek White
40.) #74 Mike Harmon

NASCAR XFINITY Series Top-10 Point Standings:
1.) #3 Ty Dillon
2.) #60 Chris Buescher -2
3.) #9 Chase Elliott -11
4.) #6 Darrell Wallace Jr. -15
5.) #16 Ryan Reed -22
6.) #7 Regan Smith -22
7.) #1 Elliott Sadler -38
8.) #62 Brendan Gaughan -43
9.) #2 Brian Scott -50
10.) #19 Daniel Suarez -59

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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