Jones Battles Boss for Win Before Getting Spun Late
Erik Jones captured his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole of the season and was running second to Kyle Busch Motorsports owner and teammate Kyle Busch in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway before getting spun battling four-wide for the lead heading into Turn 1during the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. After two visits to pit road to repair the cosmetic damage, the 19-year-old returned to the track scored in the 16th position, but over the final two attempts to finish the race gained six spots and salvaged a top-10 finish.
After capturing the pole with a lap of with a lap of 54.151 seconds at 166.202 mph, Jones went on to lead the first nine laps of the event. Busch was able to work his way around his protégé shortly after a lap-nine restart. The No. 4 Tundra fell back to the third spot, but was able to work his way back into the runner-up spot when green-flag pit stops began on lap 27. On lap 30, crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his driver to pit road for four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel.
When pit stops cycled through on lap 38, Jones was scored in the second position 1.39 seconds behind Busch. As the long green-flag run continued, the talented youngster cut into the lead and narrowed it down to .9 seconds when a debris caution occurred on lap 49.
Busch held serve on the ensuing restart and Jones settled into the second position. A two-truck accident on lap 55 set up a green-white-checkered finish with boss versus mentor on the front row. Timothy Peters made things three wide heading into Turn 1, then Austin Dillon tried to shoot through the middle to make it four wide and made contact with the left rear fender of Jones Tundra sending him spinning.
Efficient work by the No. 4 team in repairing the damage allowed Jones to remain on the lead lap after two visits to pit road under caution. He was scored in the 16th position for the second attempt to finish the race and gained three positions before the third and final attempt. The determined driver made up three more spots over the final two laps and salvaged a top-10 finish.
Busch picked up his 43rd career victory in the Truck Series and his 148th across NASCAR's top-three divisions. Kevin Harvick finished 1.125 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot. Tyler Reddick, Cameron Hayley and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five finishers. Matt Tifft in KBM's third entry finished eighth.
The 11th race of the 2015 season featured five cautions for a total of 16 laps. There were four lead changes among four drivers, including Jones who led once for nine laps.
With 12 of 23 races completed, Jones sits third in the championship standings - 16 tallies behind points leader Tyler Reddick.
Jones will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Aug. 15 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Live coverage of the Careers for Veterans 200 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 12.30 p.m. ET. It will be the Michigan native's first career start at his home-state track.
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