Box Score Info:
- Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (Round 31 of 33)
- Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
- Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/110 laps)
- Start/Finish: 14th/6th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1 – 45):
- Jones started 14th and quickly moved up to eighth on the first lap, as the caution waved for an incident ahead of him involving teammate Christopher Bell.
- Jones reported to crew chief Chris Gabehart that his Interstate Batteries Camry was loose on entry, as he held his position just inside the top-10.
- Jones finished the stage in 10th as he gave feedback to Gabehart that his car was tight by himself but needed extra security with the rear of the car when he was behind another car.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):
- Jones Started 25th, finished 10th.
- The Atlanta, Georgia native pitted on lap 48 following the end of Stage 1, but quickly ran into trouble on pit road as the tire carrier for the Interstate Batteries team had a tire knocked out of his hand on the pit stop by the car of Michael Annett. While no fault of the crew, the result was a penalty handed down by NASCAR for an uncontrolled tire, sending Jones to the rear of the field for the start of Stage 2.
- Jones did not stay in the back for long, as he quickly worked his way up to 11th by lap 75.
- After pitting on lap 83, Jones restarted 14th and moved up to 10th to end the second stage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 91-200):
- Jones Started fifth, finished sixth.
- The Interstate Batteries driver, who had already pitted, moved up to fifth to start the third and final stage.
- However, trouble struck early as Jones spun exiting turn 2 underneath Annett on lap 97 shortly after the restart. The good news for the young driver was that he was able to hold onto his No. 18 Toyota with no further damage.
- Jones came to the attention of the Interstate Batteries crew on lap 99 for tires and fuel, sending him back to 22nd-place for the lap 99 restart.
- When the caution waved on lap 126, Gabehart decided to call Jones to pit road from the 13th position for fuel only on lap 128, hoping to save their final set of tires for the final pit stop as they would need to stop one more time.
- The fuel only stop vaulted Jones to the lead on the lap 130 restart, hoping to stay towards the front on old tires until the final pit stop.
- Trouble found Jones again on lap 139 as he got loose on the inside of turn 2 again, making contact with JGR teammate Ryan Preece and sending him into the wall. Jones was able to escape the spin with minimal damage.
- Jones came to pit road to the attention of the Interstate Batteries crew on lap 140 for four fresh tires and to fix small damage to the body and restarted 20th on lap 144.
- There looked to be a silver lining in the spin, as Jones had enough fuel to make it to the end while the leaders needed a caution since they could not make it to the end of the race if it went green all the way.
- Unfortunately, the caution did come with just 12 laps to go, letting the leaders pit and the strategy out the window for Jones and team. However, Jones stayed out and rode his car to the end, bringing home a strong sixth-place finish during a day where he and the Interstate Batteries team weathered several issues to a top-10 finish. The finish for Jones was his third at Texas and his 15th top-10 of the season. Jones led once for a total of four laps.
You were able to fight back for a solid top-10 finish, what were your thoughts on the race overall?
“For sure happy with the result, especially with how the day went. I don’t know, we never changed anything from practice to the race on this Interstate Batteries Camry and I feel like we had a totally different race car. I know the temperatures were a little different and we had some more wind today too so a couple different factors today for sure. Wish we could have got a little bit more, but we made the call that we had to with the couple spins that we had. We were also limited on our tires at the end and everyone was really limited on fuel there until that last caution. I was kind of hoping it would keep going and we could run it out until everyone would run out of fuel and hopefully we gain some spots that way. Not a bad day to end on and looking forward to the last two that we have.”
Was track position critical in today’s race?
“It was and I feel like every time we come back, this track is starting to get some wear on it and I can definitely tell that there are some new patches in three and four that’s kind of affecting the car more and more when we come back. I think it’s going to continue to move around a little bit, but it’s just a bottom groove race track.”