Erik Jones had a top-three truck throughout Saturday afternoon's Kroger 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and when the race came down to a green-white-checkered finish, the talented youngster found himself in a position to compete for the win. Jones lined up on the outside of the front row when the field took the green for the final time, but was forced up the track after eventual winner Joey Logano made things three-wide into Turn 1 on the restart. Jones was able to gather his truck underneath him and bring it home in the third spot. The top-10 finish was the Michigan native's third in as many NASCAR Camping World Truck starts this season and 10th consecutive dating back to last August.
"Good day overall for us in our Toyota Tundra and hopefully we can go on to Kansas and pick up our first win this season -- I feel like we will have a good shot at it," said Jones, who picked up a track-best finish in his fourth-career start at Martinsville. "I wish the caution wouldn't have come out when the 00 spun and I could have raced the 88 (Matt Crafton) for the win, I was looking forward to having a shot at it."
Jones earned the fourth starting position in knockout qualifying Saturday morning. He quickly maneuvered into the third spot after the green flag dropped and remained there when he visited pit road for the first time under caution on lap 35. After a four-tire and fuel stop, the No. 4 Tundra returned to the track scored in the third position for the ensuing restart.
The talented youngster continued to run inside the top three in the middle stages of the event, but communicated to crew chief Rudy Fugle that his Toyota was "too tight in the center." Fugle got another chance to adjust on the truck under caution on lap 142, making an air pressure adjustment on the four fresh Goodyear tires that went on the No. 4 Tundra.
With the race entering the closing laps, KBM's young driver surrendered the third spot to Cole Custer as he battled a loose-handling Tundra. With five laps remaining, Custer closed in on the top-two trucks and made a bold move that allow him to ricochet off of them into the lead. Two laps later, Crafton retaliated and sent Custer spinning. As Logano made a move to elude the fracas, Jones was able to slip by into the runner-up position before the caution waved to set up the green-white-checkered finish.
Logano picked up the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of his career. Crafton finished 0.431 seconds behind Logano in the runner-up position. Jones came home third, Johnny Sauter fourth and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-five finishers. Jones' KBM teammates Daniel Suarez and Justin Boston finished sixth and 10th, respectively.
The second race of the 2015 season featured nine cautions for a total of 61 laps. There were 14 lead changes among five drivers, including Jones who led once for two laps. With three of 23 races on the 2015 schedule complete, Jones ranks third in the championship standings -- six points behind Crafton and four behind Reddick.
Jones, who has earned the Rookie of the Race award in all three events this season, will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action on May 8 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Live coverage of the event begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.