Erik Jones’s Perfect Week Continues, Wins NXS at Chicagoland Speedwayby Kyle Pokrefky June 21, 2015 0 comments
JOLIET, Ill. — Entering the Owens Corning AttiCat 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, Erik Jones had himself a perfect racing week under his belt having won the Battle at Berlin 251 on Tuesday and his first Camping World Truck Series race of the year at Iowa Speedway on Friday night.
There simply was no denying Jones of his second XFINITY win of the year as the 19-year-old out of Byron, Mich. led 94 of 200 laps to claim the second win of the year for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 Monster Energy team.
After experiencing a rash of bad luck in the Camping World Truck Series, the series he has elected to compete for the championship for this season, with three wins in a row, it’s safe to say that the proverbial monkey is off of Jones’s back.
“I was really excited about this week,” Jones said. “Dating back to Gateway, I thought we had a shot to win Gateway, Berlin, here and Iowa. Unfortunately, Gateway didn’t go how we wanted but we got the win at Berlin, got the win last night at Iowa and then we had a fantastic Monster Energy Camry today.
“To go out here and kind of top off the whole week – it’s nice coming in like this where we go into an off week now, so we’ll have a whole week to bask in this and take it in and get ready for that next one. Just an awesome week.”
Engaging in multiple tight battles with Jones for the lead was Ryan Blaney, who battled his way to the front from the rear of the starting grid after wrecking his primary car during qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Leading 43 laps himself, the driver of the No. 22 Hertz Ford put in a valiant effort against the No. 54 Toyota but came up short by 1.958 seconds at the end.
“It was a good day for us, a decent day,” Blaney remarked. “I felt like I threw it away yesterday [by] wrecking our primary. For our team to get our backup car out and work as hard as they did and have a car contending for the win and be leading during the last little bit and just not pull it off – that really speaks volumes for them with how well they’ve prepared both the primary, but the backup also. I can’t thank them enough for all of the hard work they did yesterday.”
Completing the top-10 of today’s race, the 14th of the XFINITY season, were Austin Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Chris Buescher, Ross Kenseth, Daniel Suarez, Brian Scott, Ty Dillon and Darrell Wallace Jr.
Today’s 200-lap race set a track record for the most lead changes in an XFINITY Chicagoland race with a tally of 23, breaking the previous record of 21 set in 2011.
Seven caution flags flew during the race – making for the most cautions in a Chicagoland series race since 2006.
A competition caution brought out the first yellow of the race on Lap 25 while an unsecured tire from Dylan Lupton’s Athenian Motorsports pit rolled out onto the infield grass on Lap 81, bringing out the second caution of the day.
Wallace Jr. suffered a brief setback on Lap 98 when he looped his No. 6 Roush Performance Products Ford off of Turn 2 for the third caution of the day as Mike Harmon brought out the fourth caution of the day for stopping on the backstretch on Lap 129.
Lupton hit the Turn 2 wall on Lap 151 for the fifth caution of the day while defending event winner Chase Elliott went for a solo spin off of Turn 2 on Lap 179 to bring out caution number six.
The final yellow flag of the day flew on Lap 185 for an accident by Dakoda Armstrong on the frontstretch.
Making for a bizarre incident during the fifth caution of the day was confusion on pit road regarding if pit road was open or not.
With some drivers being told that pit road was open, a total of 21 drivers made their way down pit road while the lights at pit entrance were flashing, indicating that pit road was closed.
As so, said 21 drivers were penalized by NASCAR and were forced to start from the tail end of the field. Drivers who found themselves penalized from the incident included Ben Rhodes, Elliott Sadler, Scott, Elliott, both Dillon brothers and Jones.
Bailing out of pit entrance and back onto the race track before the commitment cone were Blaney, Buescher and Wallace Jr., among others.
“I really wasn’t told anything,” Blaney said. “I kept watching the lights and the flagman and everyone peeled off yet the red flag and lights were on.
“They always say go by the flagger and not the lights – and he still had the red out. I don’t want to say it really played out in our favor – we got the lead, yeah – and it was looking good for a little bit. I don’t know what the confusion was – I don’t think they said anything on the radio either – I don’t know why everyone peeled off.”
Entering the Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway two weeks from now, Buescher will take a 29-point lead over Ty Dillon in the drivers’ standings.
Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford will take a 30-point lead over Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 60 Ford in the owners standings into the next event.
Top-10 Finishers of the Owens Corning AttiCat 300
- 54 – Erik Jones(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 22 – Ryan Blaney – Ford – Team Penske
- 33 – Austin Dillon(i) – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
- 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
- 60 – Chris Buescher – Ford – Roush Fenway Racing
- 20 – Ross Kenseth – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 18 – Daniel Suarez# – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 2 – Brian Scott – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
- 3 – Ty Dillon – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
- 6 – Darrell Wallace Jr.# – Ford – Roush Fenway Racing
Top-10 in the Drivers’ Standings after Round 14 of 33
- 60 – Chris Buescher – Roush Fenway Racing – 528 | Leader
- 3 – Ty Dillon – Richard Childress Racing – 499 | -29
- 9 – Chase Elliott – JR Motorsports – 485 | -43
- 7 – Regan Smith – JR Motorsports – 466 | -62
- 6 – Darrell Wallace Jr.# – Roush Fenway Racing – 462 | -66
- 1 – Elliott Sadler – Roush Fenway Racing – 447 | -81
- 2 – Brian Scott – Richard Childress Racing – 430 | -98
- 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing – 419 | -109
- 16 – Ryan Reed – Roush Fenway Racing – 410 | -118
- 18 – Daniel Suarez# – Joe Gibbs Racing – 407 | -121
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky
Photo credit: Kena Krutsinger/NASCAR via Getty Images