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Erik Jones Earns Dark Victory At PIR

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, November 8 2014

Camping World Truck Series drivers kill time waiting for the lights to come on in Phoenix. When the lights went on, Erik Jones drove to the win. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Gregg Ellman)

RacinToday.com

Erik Jones scored the definitive “lights-out” NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway, where power outages delayed the start and ultimately shortened the distance of the Lucas Oil 150.

The defending event winner, Jones started on-pole and led 114 of 126 laps around PIR’s 1-mile trioval en route to his third win of the season.

PIR management issued the following statement once the race, originally scheduled for 150 laps, was red-flagged with 24 laps remaining:

“We are extremely disappointed that tonight’s race was delayed and ultimately shortened by failures in the local power grid. We want to thank the devoted race fans who stayed throughout the race; however, PIR and NASCAR both agreed that it was in the best interest of the drivers to call an end to the race after the second power outage, as safety of the competitors is paramount. While we appreciate the efforts of APS and its repair crews to restore service as quickly as possible, having to end the race prematurely is not the experience that our fans expect and deserve.”

The start was delayed by over an hour due to a power outage. Three caution flags slowed the early portion, as the yellow flag was out for the opening 28 of 33 laps. That was followed by a red flag on Lap 43 for Joey Coulter’s wreck in Turn 3. When the lights went out again with 24 laps to go, Jones was in the lead followed by reigning NCWTS champion/series point-leader Matt Crafton in second.

“It’s pretty cool to pick up another win here at Phoenix,” said Jones, driver of the No. 51 Dollar General Toyota Tundra fielded by Kyle Busch Motorsports. “Definitely a great way to top off the year for me in this truck. A good way to start the 2015 season.“

Jones earned his fourth career Truck Series win in just his 17th start and gave Kyle Busch Motorsports its record-breaking 13th victory as on organization this season, breaking the mark set by Ultra Motorsports in 2001. Jones’ victory also was the 17th of the season for Tundra drivers and the 128th win for Toyota drivers since the manufacturer joined the series in 2004.

“It’s awesome to break the truck record _ 13 wins in a season _ and cool to be the one that got to do that,” said Jones, who captured the pole with a track record lap in 26.562-seconds at 135.532 mph. “Just an awesome night. Wish we could have raced 24 more (laps). I think that we would have been able to definitely hold him (Crafton) off. I felt like we had, by far, the best truck. He could run for 10 laps pretty hard and maintain about five back to us and then it seemed like we’d just kind of drive away inch-by- inch at that point. Just felt like it was a great truck and I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that if we were to go back racing there for the last 20 that we would have been able to hold him off.”

Crafton, who failed to wrap-up a record-setting back-to-back NCWTS championship Friday night, politely disagreed with Jones on the impact of those missing laps.

“Absolutely _ 1000 percent,” said Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Goof Off/Menards Toyota. “I’d been working on my restart. I had raced under him (Jones) for a little while. I know if I could have got some track position on him we could have beat him, I truly believe that. He was definitely fast. Right there on that last run I definitely thought I had something for him if we would have had track position. I’m tired of finishing second to that damn No. 51.”

Kyle Busch, truck-owner and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular, has scored seven NCWTS wins this season. Busch will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra when the Truck Series concludes its season at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 14. Busch is defending winner of the Truck Series race at HMS. Live TV coverage will air on Fox Sports 1 beginning with the “Truck Series Setup Show” at 7:30 p.m. (EST).

Meanwhile, crew chief Eric Phillips said the 18-year-old Jones continues to build the foundation for a stellar NCWTS career.

“He does an awesome job _ everyone at KBM has,” said Phillips, who is working with engineer Rudy Fugle. “There’s a feel for this racetrack that (Erik) has and he’s showed it the last two years. The guys built a brand new truck _ it’s the first brand new truck that we’ve built all year at KBM so I’m pretty proud of that and pumped about it. I think it shows good things going into next year for these guys. This is the first new one that they’ve built and the kind of speed that it had all night…we’ve got another new one going to Homestead next week and I’m just excited about the future for these guys.”

Crafton agreed that Jones had the best truck on long runs. “We made some adjustments right there at the end,” Crafton said. “It was a damn shame that the lights went out. We were mirroring each other on that little short run there. I had messed with the blowers and got my stuff to come to me pretty good. I knew if I could get in front of him I could guarantee 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 can promise you, on the next restart.”

Ryan Blaney overcame his season-worst 17th starting spot to finish fourth and remain in title contention. Blaney, driver of the No.29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150 fielded by Brad Keselowski Racing, is an unofficial 25 points behind Crafton heading into next weekend’s season-finale at HMS.

“I’m going into Homestead and trying to win the race,” Crafton said. “That’s been our goal since Daytona _ we haven’t looked at the points and we haven’t focused anything on points. Just went out there and tried to win as many races as possible. We’ve only won two. We’ve had some bad luck…leading a race, blew a right front tire and finished second too many times, too.”

Friday’s 21st/penultimate race of the season featured seven cautions for 48 laps. There were just two lead changes, as KBM drivers led all 126 laps. The No. 51 team leads the Owner’s point standings by 18 over Crafton’s No. 88 ThorSport Racing team heading to South Florida for the season-ender.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – Lucas Oil 150

Phoenix International Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Friday, November 07, 2014

1. (1) Erik Jones, Toyota, 126, $41870.

2. (2) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 126, $26060.

3. (19) Cole Custer, Chevrolet, 126, $20576.

4. (17) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 126, $15400.

5. (4) Ben Rhodes, Chevrolet, 126, $13275.

6. (9) Darrell Wallace Jr., Toyota, 126, $11875.

7. (8) John H. Nemechek, Toyota, 126, $11525.

8. (12) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 126, $9225.

9. (14) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 126, $11425.

10. (7) Tyler Reddick #, Ford, 126, $13625.

11. (3) Ben Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 126, $11175.

12. (16) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 126, $8800.

13. (18) Mason Mingus #, Chevrolet, 125, $8750.

14. (20) Bryan Silas, Chevrolet, 125, $10925.

15. (25) Korbin Forrister, Chevrolet, 125, $11700.

16. (11) Brennan Newberry, Chevrolet, 124, $10800.

17. (15) Gray Gaulding #, Chevrolet, 124, $10750.

18. (23) Tyler Young #, Chevrolet, 124, $10700.

19. (10) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 124, $10650.

20. (21) Matt Tifft, Chevrolet, 124, $8975.

21. (29) Tyler Tanner, RAM, 123, $8250.

22. (31) Jody Knowles, Ford, 122, $8200.

23. (32) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 119, $10350.

24. (30) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, Electrical, 105, $10250.

25. (13) Jeb Burton, Toyota, 102, $9050.

26. (24) German Quiroga, Toyota, 83, $8800.

27. (34) Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet, 80, $7675.

28. (33) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, Steering, 54, $7575.

29. (28) Akinori Ogata, Toyota, Rear Gear, 45, $7475.

30. (5) Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, Accident, 38, $7875.

31. (6) Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, Accident, 27, $7325.

32. (27) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, Axle, 21, $7300.

33. (22) John Wes Townley, Toyota, Accident, 1, $7275.

34. (26) Justin Jennings, Chevrolet, Accident, 0, $7245.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 76.364 mph.

Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 39 Mins, 00 Secs. Margin of Victory: Caution.

Caution Flags: 7 for 48 laps.

Lead Changes: 2 among 2 drivers.

Lap Leaders: E. Jones 1-91; D. Wallace Jr. 92-103; E. Jones 104-126.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): E. Jones 2 times for 114 laps; D. Wallace Jr. 1 time for 12 laps.

Top 10 in Points: M. Crafton – 798; R. Blaney – 773; D. Wallace Jr. – 752; J. Sauter – 739; T. Peters – 705; J. Coulter – 659; G. Quiroga – 654; B. Kennedy # – 652; J. Burton – 648; M. Mingus # – 530.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, November 8 2014
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