Making his first start on a superspeedway, 18-year-old Erik Jones' did exactly what has made him so successful in the early stages of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The talented youngster kept his Tundra in one piece, ran solidly inside the top 10 for the majority of the fred's 250 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and at the end of the day put his team in position for a win.
Jones took the green-white-checkered restart from the fourth position and remained tucked in behind Ryan Blaney in the outside lane when the field took the white flag. Unfortunately for Jones, Jeb Burton - who was directly behind him - made a move to create a third lane heading into Turn 1 and stalled Jones momentum. The No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra fell back just outside the top 10 as the field rolled down the backstretch, but the resilient wheelman stayed calm, cool and collected and was able to get a huge run down the frontstretch, which catapulted him past several competitors and allowed him to end the day with a sixth-place finish.
"It was a learning experience for sure," Jones said of his first superspeedway start. "We spent most of the race just trying to figure out what to do and riding around -- just trying to get to the end. Once we got down to the last 20 (laps), it was kind of time to start racing a little bit. Worked our way back up to the front and ended up fourth for the final green-white-checkered finish. Had a shot at it I felt like, but things just didn't play out right with trucks behind us and pushing and stuff. Ended up sixth, which is a good, solid day for us. Had a fast ToyotaCare Tundra and it was a good owner's points day. Good learning experience for me and a clean truck. Something to build on."
Timothy Peters picked up his first win of the season and the eighth of his Truck Series career. Tayler Malsam finished 0.143 seconds behind him in the runner-up position. Spencer Gallagher, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five finishers.
The 18th race of the 2014 season featured six cautions for a total of 22 laps. There were 18 lead changes among nine drivers, including Jones who led one lap. The No. 51 regained the lead in the Owner's point standings for the first time since the ninth race of the season. The reigning champions sit six points ahead of the No. 88 team with four races remaining.
Jones returns to the wheel of the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action at Martinsville (Va.) Superspeedway on Oct. 25. Live coverage of the Kroger 200 will air on Fox Sports 1 beginning with the Truck Series Setup Show at 1 p.m. ET.