After starting from the rear of the field in Saturday night's Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway due to an engine change after qualifying, Erik Jones and the No. 4 Toyota Racing team overcame adversity to register their 10th consecutive top-10 finish and retain a four-point lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings with five races remaining.
Jones had maneuvered his way into the top five at the halfway mark of the 146-lap event and remained there in the closing stages as the race ended on a 94-lap green-flag run. With 20 laps remaining, crew chief Rudy Fugle communicated to his driver to be conservative with his on-throttle time in an effort to save enough fuel to make it to the end of the race. The defending race winner took over the third position when race leader Matt Crafton pitted with five laps to go and advanced to second when Cameron Hayley ran out of fuel with two laps remaining. The No. 4 Tundra ran out of fuel just before taking the white flag and after coasting around the track crossed the stripe in the ninth position.
"Just a lot of ups and downs I guess you would say," Jones said. "Started in the back there because they put a new motor in before the start of the race and it really woke our Tundra up. We rolled up to the top-15 pretty fast and then we were able to get into the top-five and then top-three towards the end there. I was saving and saving (fuel) and trying to get to the end and I saw the 17 (Timothy Peters) coming as we were coming to the white and decided it was time to go. Tried to hustle it and hope it was going to make it and unfortunately it didn't and ran out coming to the white. Just overall good fight, really all we could do to get a decent finish out of it and keep our points lead at a decent margin. I think it's the best outcome for us considering the start of how the day went."
John Wes Townley collected the first Truck Series win of his career. Timothy Peters finished 3.827 seconds behind Townley in the runner-up position. Ben Kennedy finished third, while John Hunter Nemechek and Brandon Jones rounded out the top-five finishers. Jones KBM teammates Christopher Bell and Matt Tifft finished 14th and 19h, respectively.
The 18th race of the 2015 season featured three cautions for a total of 19 laps. There were 15 lead changes among nine drivers.
With five races remaining on the 2015 schedule, Jones leads Matt Crafton by four points in the Truck Series championship standings.
Jones will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Oct. 24 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Live coverage of the Fred's 250 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 12:30 p.m. ET.