Erik Jones Doing Double Duty in the Desert
Erik Jones will get behind the wheel of the No. 51 Dollar General Tundra for his 12th and final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start of the 2014 season in Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. In addition to trying to duplicate his dominant performance in last year's Truck Series event in the desert, the 18-year-old rising star will perform double duty for the first time in his career as he makes his third start in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry in Saturday's Nationwide Series event.
The racing prodigy cemented his place as one of NASCAR's rising stars in last year's Lucas Oil 150, whenat the age of 17 years, five months and nine days old, he became the youngest winner of a NASCAR National Series event. Jones narrowly missed the pole, but was able to work his way to the front of the field for the first time on lap 45. Once out front, he opened up a three-second lead at one point and led a race-high 84 laps. He lost the lead on a restart with less than 20 laps remaining, but after another caution flew, redeemed himself when he emerged from a side-by-side battle with the lead. The determined youngster checked out over the final eight laps and when the checkered flag flew had distanced himself by 1.66 seconds on the field.
Jones' win marked the third consecutive victory for Kyle Busch Motorsports at the 1-mile Tri-oval. Owner-driver Kyle Busch kicked off the winning spree in 2011, when his Dollar General Tundra emerged from pit road with the lead on lap 47 and then led the final 107 laps en route to victory. In 2012, Brian Scott got behind the wheel of the Dollar General Tundra, led a race-high 48 laps and outdueled Kyle Larson in the closing laps to pick up his second career Truck Series victory.
Friday's race will mark Dollar General's fourth and final appearance onboard the No. 51 Toyota this this season and first with Jones in the cockpit. Busch scored his seventh career Truck Series win for the nation's largest small-box discount retailer at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway in September, in a truck which was setup in practice by Jones, and also with the yellow-and-black scheme earlier this season at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Overall in 31 races adorning KBM's Tundras, the Tennessee-based company has been a part of eight wins - including the team's historic first victory at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway in April of 2010 - and 17 top-five finishes.
Dollar General will recognize and honor the military community by highlighting the Paychecks for Patriots program with a special decal on Jones' No. 51 Dollar General Toyota Tundra for Veteran's day weekend, as well as offering all current and veteran military service members and their family an 11% off discount on Veterans Day. Paychecks for Patriots is an innovative partnership between state government and employers to address veteran and National Guard unemployment challenges. This successful program was created by Dollar General in partnership with state employment agencies to create a pathway toward economic opportunity for veterans and their families both online and through hiring fairs.
As he has done throughout the early stages of his career, Jones will look to show 'veteran' poise in an effort to put himself in a position to repeat as the winner of the Lucas Oil 150 and bring home the victor's paycheck. Then, the talented youngster will look to take that confidence into chasing a win in Saturday's Nationwide Series race as he performs double duty in the desert.
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