Jones Finishes 3rd & Leads Points After Daytona

Event: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 (Round 1 of 33)

Location: Daytona International Speedway (2.5-mile superspeedway)

Format: 120 laps (Stages: 30 laps / 60 laps / 120 laps)

Start / Finish: 16th / 3rd (Running, completed 120 of 120 laps)

Point Standing:  First place – 49 points

Race Winner:  Michael Annett

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-30)

  • Brandon Jones and the No. 19 Juniper Networks team started the 120-lap race from 16th, but immediately charged up to fifth place by lap four.  The field went single file at the top of the track and ran there until the final lap.  Jones finished stage 1 solidly in fifth.
  • Crew chief Jeff Meendering called Jones down pitroad for a left-side tire change, fuel and a slight wedge adjustment. 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 31-60)

  • Jones started stage 2 from the third position and captured the lead on lap 40.  By lap 44 he had fallen back to second and maintained second for the entirety of the stage, finishing in a very strong second place.
  • Jones pitted for right-sides only, fuel and no adjustments.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 61-120)

  • After the Juniper Networks team blistered off a great stop, Jones won the race off pitroad regaining the lead for the final stage.
  • On lap 72 a caution flag flew for debris while Jones led for the third time.  Meendering advised Jones to pit for fuel only and he exited pitroad in seventh place.
  • By lap 84 Jones had forged his way back up to third place.
  • With one lap to go, Justin Allgaier backed up to Jones and got a run, but Michael Annett was able to block and win, followed by Allgaier with Jones finishing third for his career best on the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway.
  • Jones was the highest-finishing Toyota driver.   

How did you see the closing laps?

“I mean, you could just tell everybody was so scared to get out of line there and then lose the pack. Me and Justin (Allgaier) just talked after the race and we thought that that 1 (Michael Annett), whenever he tried to swing that block, that was going to be the ticket to get by him. Just not enough momentum. Just very hard to get going there, but the Supra looked great on the race track for the debut of it. Juniper was back on the car for us this weekend, so I can’t complain. We had a great day. It was a great start to the year.”

How did the new Supra feel during the race today?

“It was awesome. It looks great, it drives great. I’m really, really happy to be a part of Toyota and to drive the Supra. I think that it’s going to have a lot of success here in 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing what it really does at a mile-and-a-half track.”

Did you have trouble getting a run going toward the end of the race?

“Yeah, I mean there were a couple of times where you’d kind of get a run and you’re just so scared to use it and pull out of line. There’s a couple guys and a couple back that the spotter was saying that they’re trying to work the draft and just never could get a bottom pack to form to launch us forward. All in all, it was a great day for team Toyota, for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). I was really impressed on how the Supra handled.”

Are you happy to have a solid points day to open the season?

“This is amazing. You always come to Daytona with what if you don’t make it out of this one. We finished great in both stages and a great finish at the end. All in all, I think we can improve on our qualifying performance a little bit, but a great day for us.”

Next Up: The team now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Rinnai 250 on Saturday, February 23, 2019. Jones will make his first start of the year in the No. 19 Menards Jeld-Wen Toyota Supra. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by PRN and FS1.