Erik Jones Seeking Redemption
When Erik Jones found out what 12 races would make up his 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, the Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway was one that he immediately circled. The 18-year-old will be making his first Truck Series start at the "Tricky Triangle" after two heartbreaking starts last season in the ARCA Racing Series.
Jones started fifth in his first visit to the 2.5-mile tri-oval last season in the ARCA Racing Series, but was able to work his way to the front of the field on lap 23. The Michigan native had a nine-second lead when he ran out of fuel on lap 43 and had to coast down pit road to the attention of his crew. As he was coasting back a caution occurred, which meant after making his stop under caution he was placed at the back of the field for the ensuing restart per the rule book. The talented youngster maneuvered his way back to the second position with 10 laps remaining, but was five seconds behind leader Chase Elliott. In the closing laps Jones closed to within a half-second of Elliott, but was left with a disappointing runner-up finish.
The racing prodigy was once again in the field when the ARCA Racing Series returned to Pocono in August and this time around he qualified fourth. Jones led a race-high 25 laps and had a five-second lead on the field in the closing stages of the race when heartbreak struck again. His No. 15 Toyota brushed the wall and moments later experienced an issue with the engine, sending him to the garage for the final two laps and leaving him with a disappointing 12th-place finish.
Jones' is now handed the task of getting Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) its first win at Pocono Raceway. In the four Truck Series events at the Pennsylvania track, KBM drivers have twice posted runner-up finishes - Kasey Kahne in the inaugural visit in 2010 and Kyle Busch in 2011. With Darrell Wallace Jr.'s win at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio last week, Pocono is one of just three tracks currently on the Truck Series schedule that the team has yet to conquer. Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario and Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway are the other two.
Jones will have a fast Tundra underneath him as he returns to the "Tricky Triangle" seeking redemption for his two heartbreaking finishes in the ARCA Racing Series last season. Crew chief Eric Phillips and his No. 51 team will be unloading a Toyota that has won in each of its two starts this season. KBM-15 visited victory lane with Kyle Busch at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Not only did the truck win those races, it dominated. Busch won both events from the pole and led 254 of the combined 367 laps between the two.