Box Score Info
- RACE: NASCAR XFINITY Series – DC Solar 200
- TRACK: ISM Raceway
- CAR: No. 19 Juniper Networks Toyota Camry
- START: 10th
- FINISH: 11th
- LAPS: 199/200
- POINTS POSITION: Currently 7th in the driver point standings
Brandon Jones and the No. 19 Juniper Networks team traveled to the desert in Phoenix, AZ for the second race on the west coast swing. Jones had struggled on the one-mile precision oval in the past, but his advance preparations helped produce a strong qualifying run, advancing him to the final round to post a 10th place starting position. Phoenix is known as the “Valley of the Sun”, but not today. It actually produced two red flags for rain that together caused over two hours of delay.
Jones started the DC Solar 200 out really strong and ran in the top-10 for the entire Stage one. He finished eighth and immediately after the end of stage on lap 46, the red flag flew for the first rain delay. NASCAR brought the field to pit road. Drivers got out of their cars for an hour-and-a-half and Jones spoke with his crew chief Chris Gabehart about his Toyota Camry being too tight during that run. When racing resumed, Jones pitted for fuel, air adjustments and four tires.
The second stage started out with several teams taking on different strategies. The first 14 cars stayed out and some teams elected to take two tires, while others took four. When the green flag waved on lap 52 Jones was scored in 17th. He had a great restart and passed three cars on the first lap jumping to 13th. On lap 66, the spotter reported light sprinkles, but the race continued and Gabehart had to call the race strategy with rain looming. Jones reported on lap 66 that his Juniper Networks Toyota had freed up.
On lap 82, the No. 15 car had an incident on the frontstretch and Gabehart called a last minute audible for Jones to come down pit road for fuel and right side tires only. Rain began to fall and NASCAR once again called the field down pit road for the second red flag of the 200-mile race. After about a half-hour delay racing resumed on lap 89 and Jones was in the 15th spot. Stage 2 ended on lap 92 and Jones had finished it in 13th.
On lap 109 Jones’ survival skills kicked in as he made an instinctive evasive move to miss the No. 40 car moving down the track right in front of him. This was Jones’ “move of the race” as he came within inches of being sideswiped.
Jones found himself in a dogfight for a top-10 position with the No. 9 and No. 1 cars throughout the remainder of the final stage. They ran door to door for several laps.
When the checkered flag flew, Jones crossed the start/finish line in his No. 19 Juniper Networks Toyota Camry for a hard fought 11th place finish.
Brad Keselowski won the race followed by Justin Allgaier, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and Jamie McMurray.
How was the race overall today and were you pleased with the outcome?
“All in all, I think it shows how much being on the simulator at TRD and everything the whole week really showed for us for this race. This has really been one of the tracks I’ve kind of struggled at when I come to it so to come so close to a top-10, I’m still smiling about it. I would love to be better, but for sure to be able to get it come out that way, I’m happy. Also a great qualifying effort from where we started – that hasn’t been a strong suit there in a while too and we’ve been really, really good on qualifying this year so I’m proud of the guys. I think we still have more work to do to get it up to where it needs to be, but all in all a fantastic day. We’re all excited and can’t thank Juniper enough for coming on for a second race and TRD for all the support they give us.”
How frustrating were the red flags in the race and is it difficult to keep your focus?
“It’s kind of frustrating in a way because you’re so hyped up and have this mental background built up where you want to be on the track, but then you lose all of that. It’s hard to keep your mental focus up whenever you’re starting and stopping like that. All in all I think we did a pretty good job at it once we got going.”
How much time did you spend on the simulator to prepare for Phoenix?
“Actually Christopher (Bell) got in there and kind of built a baseline and let me take over after lunch. I was in there for a good four-and-a-half to five hours. I put a ton of effort into it and I was able to look at a lot of his data and see how he was using his brake and his throttle together. I think that paid huge dividends and that was something new I tried here this weekend with my feet and it was all from the sim (simulator). It was cool to be able to take that away.”