Making his first career start in any series on a road course, 18-year-old Erik Jones started third and finished third in Sunday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont. Posting consistent laps throughout the day, Jones took the final restart from the third position with eight laps remaining, but got loose through off the exit of Turn 10 on the first green-flag lap and instead of challenging Ryan Blaney and German Quiroga for the win in the closing laps, was forced to hold off Gray Gaulding to bring home the podium finish.
"We had a really good ToyotaCare Tundra and ran up front all day -- can't complain about that," said Jones, who tallied his fourth top-three finish across 12 career Truck Series starts. "We all want to bring home the win, but we were able to get this team a good solid third-place finish and get back on track in the owner's points. I felt like we could run with German (Quiroga) and Ryan (Blaney) and I was trying to plan my move before that last restart, but I'm not sure if our air pressures were too low or what, it just wouldn't go and at that point it was a challenge to hold off Gray (Gaulding)."
Not only did Jones start third and finish third, he posted the third fastest lap in both rounds of Saturday evening's knockout qualifying session. The Michigan native registered a lap of 81.410 seconds at 108.738 mph in the first round and 81.015 seconds at 109.269 mph in the final round.
After the green flag waved Sunday afternoon, Jones ran third for the first seven laps and advanced up to second on lap 8 when the leader made his first scheduled pit stop. Crew chief Eric Phillips summoned his young driver to pit road on lap 12, where the over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment.
With teams on varying pit strategies, Jones was scored in the fifth position on lap 20. He communicated that the adjustments during the first stop had made his ToyotaCare Tundra "tight through the Esses." On lap 30, he had returned to the third position, running behind Blaney - who was on a one-stop strategy and hadn't visited pit road yet - and fellow teenager Cole Custer.
The No. 51 team surrendered the second position on lap 38 to make their final stop of the day. After getting four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and another air pressure adjustment, Jones returned to the track scored in the fourth position on lap 40.
Jones was running third when a one-truck spin brought out the second and final caution on lap 54. The ToyotaCare Tundra was lined up in the second row on the inside lane for the restart with eight laps remaining and was able to stay in line with the top-two trucks all the way up until he got loose in Turn 10. The Michigan native continued to be loose the next couple laps as he battled side-by-side with Gaulding, but was able to hold him off over the closing laps to bring home the third-place finish.
Blaney picked up his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2014 and the third of his career. Quiroga finished 0.049 seconds behind him in the runner-up position. Jones, Gaulding and Andrew Ranger rounded out the top-five finishers.
Jones clocked consistent laps throughout the event, spending all 64 laps inside the top 15 and his Average Running Position of 3.828 ranked second best. His Green Flag Speed of 106.467 and Driver Rating of 116.2 both ranked third best.
The 14th race of the 2014 season featured two cautions for a total of six laps. There were eight lead changes among seven drivers. The No. 51 remained fourth in the Owner's point standings and are currently 16 points behind the series leading No. 98 team.
Kyle Busch returns to the wheel of the No. 51 Dollar General Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway on Friday, Sept. 12. Live coverage of the Chicagoland 225 will air on Fox Sports 1 beginning with the Truck Series Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET.