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Keeping Pace

Erik Jones ends streak of bad luck on NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, wins first race of 2015

Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Special Olympics World Games Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on June 19, 2015 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Special Olympics World Games Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on June 19, 2015 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

By Rob Gray


NEWTON, Iowa — Last season, a powerful run through Iowa Speedway helped Erik Jones finally emerge from the tall shadows cast by bad luck.

But the talented 19-year-old’s relationship with misfortune re-formed in 2015 — until, again, Iowa.

Jones entered Friday’s American Ethanol 200 winless in eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season and stung by back-to-back finishes of 23rd and 15th.

He left the track pumping his fists, victorious.

The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver led 112 laps and dominated most of the race en route to his fifth career series triumph.

"We’ve had fast trucks," Jones said. "Things just haven’t been happening. Just kept fighting the good fight and waited for it to come around."

Jones sped to the victory by 5.661 seconds over Brandon Jones, who notched a career-best runner-up finish.

Tyler Reddick finished third, Matt Crafton took fourth and Christopher Bell — in his first career start — completed the top five. Crafton retained his points lead by 12 over Reddick. Jones now stands third, 26 points behind Crafton.

"I think we’ve had speed all year long, honestly," said Brandon Jones, whose GMS Racing teammate, Spencer Gallagher, secured a career-high second last weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. "It’s just starting to come around for us."

Bell started 10th and the former USAC National Midget Champion hadn’t raced on pavement until last September.

"I just had one expectation and goal and that was just to finish the race," Bell said. "I really didn’t know what to expect, so to come out with a top five, I’m just thrilled about it."

A different type of excitement pulsed through Jones, who earlier Friday became the series’ youngest Keystone Light 21 means 21 Pole winner at Iowa (19 years, 20 days).

He led the first 43 laps, slipped back to ninth after a lap 53 restart, but patiently threaded to third by lap 98.

Jones re-took the lead for good on lap 128, surging by Crafton on another restart and within 15 laps had built a 1.5-second advantage.

Crafton led 33 laps and nearly outdueled Reddick for third in the closing stages. His ThorSport Racing teammates, Johnny Sauter and Cameron Hayley, led 14 and 37 laps, respectively, before mechanical issues put them off the pace.

Jones finally evaded a similar setback.

"This one’s just enjoyment now," Jones said. "We’re back in the swing of things. I guess the last month was just stressful all around. Stressful on me as a person. ... I kind of came to realize it doesn’t come as easy as everybody thinks it does. I had a lot of success early on and definitely got into kind of a hard spot."

Make that hard spots.

His win last season at Iowa’s fast, short track ignited a much-needed hot streak that followed a 23rd-place finish at Gateway.

Deja vu?

"It’s really similar," Jones said. "Last year we really kind of came off the same beginning to the season to this point and went here and kind of turned everything around. So I would say our luck or whatever you want to call it was worse this year at the beginning of the year than it was last year, but definitely a similar feel in getting back to Victory Lane here and getting things going in the right direction."

It worked last season.

Jones closed out the 2014 Camping World Trucks season with two more wins and posted at least a top-seven finish in seven of the final eight races.

And while it’s doubtful 2015 will fully mirror 2014, Jones offered a confident prediction.

"It took is a while to get here, but now that we’re here I think we’ll keep reeling a few off."


NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race - American Ethanol 200

Iowa Speedway

Newton, Iowa

Friday, June 19, 2015


               1. (1) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 200, $48421.

               2. (4) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 200, $29147.

               3. (3) Tyler Reddick, Ford, 200, $27459.

               4. (9) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 200, $21600.

               5. (10) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 200, $18646.

               6. (16) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 200, $16562.

               7. (14) Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, 200, $16006.

               8. (13) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 200, $15757.

               9. (7) Cole Custer, Chevrolet, 200, $15701.

               10. (12) John Wes Townley, Chevrolet, 200, $16596.

               11. (11) Justin Boston, Toyota, 200, $15591.

               12. (18) Austin Theriault #, Ford, 200, $15451.

               13. (8) Ben Kennedy, Toyota, 200, $15396.

               14. (6) Caleb Holman, Chevrolet, 200, $13090.

               15. (23) Ray Black Jr. #, Chevrolet, 199, $15801.

               16. (17) Mason Mingus, Chevrolet, 199, $15062.

               17. (20) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 198, $14952.

               18. (22) Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, 198, $14813.

               19. (5) Cameron Hayley #, Toyota, 198, $14702.

               20. (19) Tyler Young, Chevrolet, 197, $13897.

               21. (27) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 196, $13230.

               22. (26) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 193, $12119.

               23. (2) John H. Nemechek #, Chevrolet, Accident, 157, $11980.

               24. (21) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, Drive Shaft, 148, $11897.

               25. (29) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, Oil Leak, 93, $12019.

               26. (25) Korbin Forrister #, Chevrolet, Engine, 65, $11841.

               27. (15) Jake Griffin, Chevrolet, Accident, 41, $11786.

               28. (30) Tommy Regan, Chevrolet, Electrical, 33, $11539.

               29. (28) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, Suspension, 24, $11511.

               30. (31) Michael Affarano(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 22, $11011.

               31. (24) Justin Jennings, Chevrolet, Electrical, 15, $9511.

               32. (32) Caleb Roark, Chevrolet, Vibration, 5, $8511.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  96.73 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 48 Mins, 33 Secs. Margin of Victory:  5.860 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 36 laps.

Lead Changes:  6 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   E. Jones # 1-43; J. Sauter 44-57; C. Hayley # 58-94; M. Crafton 95-127; E. Jones # 128-152; B. Jones # 153-156; E. Jones # 157-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  E. Jones # 3 times for 112 laps; C. Hayley # 1 time for 37 laps; M. Crafton 1 time for 33 laps; J. Sauter 1 time for 14 laps; B. Jones # 1 time for 4 laps.

Top 10 in Points: M. Crafton - 370; T. Reddick - 358; E. Jones # - 344; J. Sauter - 327; J. Townley - 294; S. Gallagher - 288; T. Peters - 283; D. Hemric # - 282; C. Hayley # - 280; B. Kennedy - 269.

Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.