Box Score Info:
- RACE: NASCAR Xfinity Series – Overton’s 300
- TRACK: Chicagoland Speedway
- DRIVER: Brandon Jones
- CAR: No. 19 Menards/Jeld-Wen Toyota Camry
- START: 6th
- FINISH: 11th
- LAPS: 200/200
The Overton’s 300 started on Saturday June, 30 at 3:00pm EST. Brandon Jones ran double duty between both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) in Chicago over the weekend. The experience from both races would prove pivotal as he was able to score solid finishes in both outings.
Jones would start the NXS race from the sixth position after a really good qualifying run in his No. 19 Menards/Jeld-Wen Toyota Camry. The race would start and stay green throughout the entirety of the first stage. Jones would come over the radio and report to crew chief Chris Gabehart that he was too loose through turn one and two every lap. He would say that he had control of the nose but that the tail was getting away from him on the track.
Stage one would come to an end on lap 45 with Jones closing the stage in seventh. Gabehart told the pit crew to change the air pressure in his upcoming set of tires, hoping to tighten the car over the long runs. Jones would come in and pit under the caution, taking four sticker tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. The race would restart on lap 51 with Jones remaining in seventh.
Throughout the second stage, Jones reported that the car started out tighter but ended up back where they started. Jones mentioned that the balance wasn’t quite where they wanted it, saying that if they could get tighter he would be able to get back in the throttle sooner. The second stage would end on lap 90 with Jones taking the green/checkered flag from ninth. Gabehart gave Jones a big change in air pressure telling Jones starting at the bottom of the track on the restart, and that over the run his car would allow him to run the highest line against the wall. Jones restarted the race in seventh on lap 97.
The caution flag flew only two laps in to the final stage for a wreck on track. Jones told his team that the car fired off way better than it had previously. The adjustments were finally starting to shape the No. 19 Camry into what the team wanted.
Caution flew again on lap 113 with Jones running in 10th position. Jones reported that his car hit a point where it went from snug to really loose really fast on the short green flag run. The field came to pit under the caution with Jones taking four sticker tires, fuel and another big air pressure adjustment. There were errors on the pit stop putting Jones back on track in the 14th position. With 80 laps remaining in the race, teams knew that they would need to pit once more.
There would be no more cautions to come out during the Overton’s 300. The pit cycle started with roughly 35 laps remaining. Gabehart and Jones would implement pit strategy by being the lone lead lap car to stay out, hoping that a caution would come out after the other leaders pitted. Eventually Jones would have to pit from the lead due to fuel concerns on lap 180. After all of the field cycled out, Jones would be running 12th.
With five laps to go, Jones would move into the 11th position where he would eventually take the checkered flag. The team had a strong top-10 car that just ran into a few unlucky incidents.
“How was the race today?”
“For the majority of the day there, we were right in the top-10 and thought we had a shot to be there at the end. I got our guys a little off on the pit stop and didn’t really recover that well. Had to try and play some strategy at the end and stayed out and actually thought it was going to work for a little while and get up there and just missed by about a spot there. I think that’s what it would have gained us if we would have hit it just right. All in all, a good day for us and I just wish we could have gotten in the top-10, I think that would have been a good day for us. A lot of teammates were up front all day as well so a great day for Toyota and a great day for our team on the 19 car.”
“How were you able to deal with the heat today?”
“It’s tough to get out of your rhythm some and accept where you’re running some so you have to keep psyching yourself up and you have to keep telling yourself to just keep pushing a little bit more that whole time. It’s more of a mental game than it is a physical game. At the same time, you have to keep in the back of your mind that those other guys are hot too so it’s also a game of trying to mess with them as well because they’re burning up too.”