Erik Jones started Saturday's Kroger 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway from the eighth position and after a hard-fought battle clocked out of the Virginia track with a 10th-place finish. Championship contender Matt Crafton collected the race win and now trails Jones by 10 points with three races remaining on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule.
"I thought our Tundra was pretty good in practice, but as the day went on and we kind of got into it, it just started to show that we weren't where we thought we were and we just weren't able to really rebound from that and make the right adjustments to make it back to where we needed to be during the day," Jones said of his 12th consecutive top-10 finish this season. "Pitting there at the end, I thought that would be the right call to take four (tires), but obviously it didn't work out. We just got back farther in traffic with all the cautions and things just didn't work out for us."
The 19-year-old driver was running in the eighth position when a caution occurred with just over 40 laps remaining. While most of the lead-lap trucks elected to stay on the track, Jones was summoned to pit road for four fresh tires and a chassis adjustment to try and improve the handling of his Tundra. When the field went back to green on lap 161, the No. 4 Toyota was scored in the 19th position.
By the time field was slowed again for another caution on lap 171, he had advanced to the 16th position. He broke back into the top 15 on lap 176 and when the field was slowed for the 10th time on lap 180 he had advanced up to 11th. Jones' progress was halted with six laps remaining when two trucks got together in front of him and he got sandwiched in between them trying to make his way around the wreck.
Jones took the green-white-checkered finish from the 12th position and over the final two laps was able to advance two spots and keep his top-10 streak entact at 12. The top-10 result was his fourth in five starts at Martinsville and his 14th in 20 Truck Series starts this season.
Crafton collected his fifth Truck Series win of 2015 and the 10th of his career. John Hunter Nemechek finished .396-seconds behind Crafton in the runner-up position. Cameron Hayley finished third, while Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-five finishers. Jones' KBM teammates Daniel Suarez and Gray Gaulding finished 16th and 21st, respectively.
The 20th race of the 2015 season featured 12 cautions for a total of 69 laps. There were six lead changes among four drivers.
Jones will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Nov. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Live coverage of the WinStar World Casino 350 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET.