Box Score Info:
- RACE: NASCAR Xfinity Series – DC Solar 300
- TRACK: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- CAR: No.19 Menards Mastercraft Doors Toyota Camry
- START: 36th
- FINISH: 7th
- LAPS: 200/200
Brandon Jones and the No. 19 Menards Mastercraft Doors team traveled across country to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the cutoff for the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) playoffs. This 200-lap race in the middle of the desert and under extreme 100 degree temperatures marked the conclusion of the regular season and set the field for the Playoffs. Jones had clinched a postseason spot last week and is seeded eighth going into Richmond next week. Las Vegas has been a very good track for Jones and he had to use all of his skills while starting from the rear of the field as he carved his way up to the top-10 for his second consecutive top-10 finish of seventh when he crossed the finish line.
Jones and the No. 19 Menards Mastercraft Doors Team had to start the DC Solar 300 from the rear of the field under penalty for failing inspection and were unable to qualify. Jones started from the 36th position and immediately started his charge to the front of the 40-car field. He was able to put his Toyota Camry in the top-10 by lap 12 and was running in the top-10 when he crossed the start/finish line at the end of stage 1 in the 10th position.
Crew chief Chris Gabehart called Jones down pitroad for a big swing to tighten up their Toyota Camry. He started stage 2 from the 13th position and was back in the top-10 by lap 65. When stage 2 ended, Jones finished in seventh place.
Jones started the final stage from seventh and ran in the top-10 for the next 28 laps. On lap 124 the fifth caution flag flew and Gabehart called Jones down pitroad from the seventh position for fuel, four tires and an air adjustment to loosen his Camry up. Unfortunately, an uncontrolled tire resulted in a penalty dropping the team back to the 19th position.
When racing resumed, Jones started his charge back to the front of the field on lap 129 and had gained 10 spots by lap 176 and 12 spots by lap 180.
On lap 185 the No. 9 car tried to block Jones as they ran three-wide in turn 1. The No. 9 car caused minimal front end damage to Jones’ Menards Mastercraft Doors Camry, but fortunately Jones was able to stay out on the track and was still very competitive as he restarted 9th when the green flag flew on lap 194. Jones had a good restart and was able to gain two more spots as he crossed the finish line in a very solid seventh place finish.
This was Jones’ second consecutive top-10 finish and 12th for the 2018 season. He is seeded eighth in the NXS playoff standings as he heads to Richmond for the first race of the Round of 12.
Ross Chastain won the race followed by Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer, Christopher Bell and Elliott Sadler
How excited are you to be in the Playoffs?
“Yeah, going into this when I knew we were somewhat locked in the points was a relief a little bit. I thank everyone at Menard’s and Joe Gibbs Racing. We had a great run today. Everyone got this car where it needed to be and we got a good finish considering the circumstances.”
Talk about the racing out there today.
“I think one thing about Vegas is as the track wears and gets really hot, you see a lot of people move up and move around. That was one thing that was really fun today – being able to move around. It was extremely crazy. You could get big drafts and it was really slick. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota does a fantastic job. I think all of our cars were really good today. I think it showed.”
What kind of competition do you feel in this field?
“It’s tough. There’s a whole bunch of us right on top of each other at least in lap times. There’s multiple times where you think you get a big run on some of the guys and here they come back on the top. They’re difficult to pass. A lot of veterans and good drivers. Luckily we’re locked in. We’re there. We’re going to the next round. I am excited to be a part of the Playoffs.”
Was today’s race crazy because it was a cutoff?
“It was everything. Those restarts get so crazy. You move around so much. You can go right to the top and see a lot of guys like Christopher Bell who come from dirt really working that top line well. I was working with spotter Chris Lambert and he did a great job showing me how to navigate this today.”
Was there a lot of aggression today?
“For sure. I am not sure we’ve ever raced in this type of heat. We saw a lot of sliding around. We finally got the car tightened up to where I think we were running competitive at the end.”
Where do you see yourself in these Playoffs?
“I’d like to be sleeper. If we can make it to the last round, we’re here to do this and compete. That is our goal right now. Hopefully, we can get there to the last round.”