Home field advantage is a benefit generally recognized across the sports world. The term implies a number of values – not the least of which are the psychological effects supporting fans can have on competitors.
It’s proven to be an effective advantage and one that driver Brandon Jones will experience this weekend in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, where he will pilot the No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).
It’s the first time the young driver will race the iconic Interstate Batteries colors and he will have the pleasure of doing so in the backyard of the Texas-based company.
As the founding partner and “Official Battery of Joe Gibbs Racing,” Interstate Batteries has been powering the team for more than a quarter of a century. Since 1992, JGR’s first full season in NASCAR, Interstate Batteries has played an integral role in the organization’s development from start-up race team to championship powerhouse. Located just a handful of miles away in nearby Dallas, Interstate Batteries will provide Jones a few extra fans for what will be the 21-year-old driver’s 102nd career start in Xfinity competition.
Jones is competing in just his fourth full season of Xfinity competition. While he is not among the drivers making up the playoff field and vying for the series championship, he has quietly put together a solid 2018 season that is his best campaign to date since making his Xfinity debut at Iowa Speedway in Newton in 2015. In 30 starts this year, Jones has scored two top-five finishes and 14 top-10s. To top it off, he earned the top starting spot at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in May to score his second career pole award.
And, this weekend, he turns his attention once again to Texas – a track that in previous years had vexed the Atlanta native until coming on board with JGR in 2018.
In five starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Jones’ best finish to date is a ninth-place effort, a result he earned in April 2016 – his very first start Texas. He qualified ninth, ran a patient race and logged all 200 laps. Texas proved to be challenging for Jones during his next few visits to the Lone Star State with finishes of 19th, 15th and 35th.
Joining the JGR stable of drivers in 2018 proved to be a step in the right direction when it comes to racing at Texas for Jones as he qualified third during the spring race. He was a fixture among the top-five until an accident on lap 99 ended his day early and resulted in a 33rd-place result.
Leveraging a little home cooking, Jones hopes to deliver a victory for the “home team” this weekend in Texas.
What are your thoughts on racing the second time at Texas with JGR this weekend?
“I’m really excited to be heading back to Texas Motor Speedway after being so competitive there in the spring. I feel like I have really improved on mile-and-a-half tracks this year and have learned from past mistakes, which will help me going into this weekend. Texas has always been one of my favorite intermediate tracks on our schedule. They do a great job of putting on the event and it’s always a fun race. I’m looking forward to not only representing Interstate Batteries in their hometown, but also racing a Toyota just down the road from their USA headquarters.” – Brandon Jones
How does it feel to have your name added to the list of drivers who have driven for the Interstate Batteries brand?
“It’s pretty exciting to see the different drivers who have raced for Interstate Batteries and really cool to be able to add my name to that list. One of the things you learn quickly at JGR is how important Interstate Batteries is and I think everyone at our place knows the name Norm Miller and how special he is. It would be great to be able to get a win for them at their home track.”- Brandon Jones
What is your outlook for this weekend’s race at Texas?
“Texas is always a great place to go race for Joe Gibbs Racing and our race team over the past few years, especially. Brandon (Jones) was on track to have a very strong run there in the spring before being taken out of contention in the second stage. We have a strong car prepared for this weekend and feel like we have a great shot of getting Brandon and Interstate Batteries a strong run at their home track in Texas.” – Chris Gabehart