Erik Jones dominates in repeat win at Iowa

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."

Results

Pos. Car # Driver Manufacturer Start Laps Led Status
1 4 Erik Jones Toyota 1 200 112 Running
2 33 Brandon Jones Chevrolet 4 200 4 Running
3 19 Tyler Reddick Ford 3 200 0 Running
4 88 Matt Crafton Toyota 9 200 33 Running
5 51 Christopher Bell Toyota 10 200 0 Running
6 17 Timothy Peters Toyota 16 200 0 Running
7 23 Spencer Gallagher Chevrolet 14 200 0 Running
8 14 Daniel Hemric Chevrolet 13 200 0 Running
9 0 Cole Custer Chevrolet 7 200 0 Running
10 5 John Wes Townley Chevrolet 12 200 0 Running
11 54 Justin Boston Toyota 11 200 0 Running
12 29 Austin Theriault Ford 18 200 0 Running
13 11 Ben Kennedy Toyota 8 200 0 Running
14 75 Caleb Holman Chevrolet 6 200 0 Running
15 7 Ray Black Jr Chevrolet 23 199 0 Running
16 15 Mason Mingus Chevrolet 17 199 0 Running
17 98 Johnny Sauter Toyota 20 198 14 Running
18 94 Timmy Hill Chevrolet 22 198 0 Running
19 13 Cameron Hayley Toyota 5 198 37 Running
20 2 Tyler Young Chevrolet 19 197 0 Running
21 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Chevrolet 27 196 0 Running
22 74 Jordan Anderson Chevrolet 26 193 0 Running
23 8 John Hunter Nemechek Chevrolet 2 157 0 Accident
24 50 Travis Kvapil Chevrolet 21 148 0
25 6 Norm Benning Chevrolet 29 93 0 Oil Leak
26 8 Korbin Forrister Chevrolet 25 65 0 Engine
27 63 Jake Griffin Chevrolet 15 41 0 Accident
28 45 Tommy Regan Chevrolet 30 33 0 Electrical
29 1 Ryan Ellis Chevrolet 28 24 0 Suspension
30 3 Michael Affarano Chevrolet 31 22 0 Vibration
31 36 Justin Jennings Chevrolet 24 15 0 Electrical
32 0 Caleb Roark Chevrolet 32 5 0 Vibration

Leave a Reply