Box Score Info
- RACE: NASCAR Xfinity Series; Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300
- TRACK: Bristol Motor Speedway
- CAR: No.19 Menards/Turtle Wax Toyota Camry
- START: 6th
- FINISH: 6th
- LAPS: 300/300
Brandon Jones and the Menards/Turtle Wax team headed to Bristol Motor Speedway with high expectations after winning their first stage win at Texas last week. They were very fast right off the hauler, posting the top speed in the first practice and third fastest for the second practice. Jones followed that up with a sixth place-qualifying run, survived a wreck fest and led twice for a career-high 106 laps on “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile”. Jones finished a season-high sixth place position and captured his third top-10 finish for the season. He also qualified for the second Dash 4 Cash race in Richmond and will run for the $100,000 bonus.
The Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 started out rough with four cations during the first stage. Jones reported to his crew chief Chris Gabehart that his Camry was too free. When the second caution flag flew, Gabehart brought Jones in for adjustments, fuel and four fresh tires. The 98 car pitted short and caused Jones to lose time in the pits. He came in third and restarted 12th. On the fourth caution, Jones collected front grill damage and the Menards team jumped into action and made the minor repairs. Jones ended Stage 1 in the 19th position.
Gabehart called for an early strategy change and had Jones stay out for track position. When Stage 2 started, Jones was in third position. On lap 101, the No. 7 car came down the front of Jones’ Camry causing minimum cosmetic damage. Jones reported his Toyota Camry was still free, but survived three more cautions and a red flag and finished Stage 2 in 12th.
Jones stayed out at the end of Stage 2 for track position again and restarted on the front row in the second spot. He fought the 98 car hard for the lead over the next couple of laps and took his first lead of the 300-mile event on lap 184. He led the next 101 laps keeping the field behind him until an untimely caution flag flew on lap 284 bringing out the final caution flag.
Gabehart brought Jones down pit road and called an audible to take two left-side tires and fuel only. Jones maintained his lead off pit road and restarted in the lead with 10 laps to go. He fought his teammate Ryan Preece on the restart and Preece passed Jones for the lead on lap 291. Jones fought hard on the older tires and captured his third top-10 of 2018 as he crossed the start/finish line for a season-high sixth place finish. Jones’ teammate Ryan Preece and the No. 18 Rheem team won the race and the first Dash 4 Cash bonus.
Jones will proudly display the Toyota Care paint scheme when his No. 19 team returns to the track next weekend at Richmond Raceway for the ToyotaCare 250. He will also compete at Richmond Raceway for the second Dash 4 Cash race of 2018 and the $100,000 bonus next week. Coverage of the race begins on Friday, April 20th at 7:00 PM ET live on Fox Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
After leading the race for 106 laps, was the last pit stop the difference in today’s race?
“That caution on right there on that long run just killed me and I just put my head down when I saw it ‘cause I knew we were so much better than the 18 (Ryan Preece) up off the corner, but all in all such a phenomenal day for Toyota, for Menards and for everybody at (Joe Gibbs Racing) JGR right now. Also, Turtle Wax is on board with us this weekend as well. Can’t say enough about the guys that support us the most and we are just so close right now. It breaks my heart just to see that, but we had a gamble right there at the end. We had to take the two tires to try to see what we could do. Just too much wheel-spinning on the restart to make anything of it.”
What was that racecar like after you only took left-side tires?
“Well, you have to gamble when you’re leading like that. Sometimes you have to play a mind game with some of the other guys that are behind you. Our game just didn’t work out too well for us. It was just way too loose on the restart there to make anything of it, but enjoyed racing (Ryan) Preece there at the end. That was pretty cool. I did everything but try to wreck him, so I think that I raced pretty good as a teammate there with him. I just wish that caution wouldn’t have come out. I kind of put my head down when I saw it and was just like man, if this thing would’ve kept going, we’re in the catbird seat really really good. I can’t say enough about the day though. All weekend we were top three in practice throughout the whole day yesterday. Qualified really really well and was getting ready to possibly go to Victory Lane.”
What does this do for you confidence-wise leading all these laps moving forward?
“It’s big. Texas was big for me even though we kind of crashed out early there, we still were really really fast there. I think that’s kind of what led to this. Myself and Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) have had a lot of conversation of you know, don’t think about it, just do it. That’s kind of the momentum I’m on right now. I’m going to stick to that and it’s going to work out for us eventually.”