Erik Jones took the lead on lap 13 and was out front for 117 of the 147 laps in Friday night's WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth as he collected his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of 2015. Jones crossed the finish line 2.855 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) teammate Daniel Suarez and now holds a 17-point lead in the Truck Series Championship standings with just two races remaining.
"We've went through a lot of ups and downs these past couple of months and trying to get back into this championship hunt and getting our Tundra back in there," Jones said. "It's pretty awesome, a swing up and it's nice to get back in victory lane here at Texas, a place I love. This would not be possible without Toyota and everyone at TRD (Toyota Racing Development), KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) Chassis, Joe Gibbs Racing Engines, JBL, Camping World and all the fans. It's so cool to win here. The Tundras are built in San Antonio, so it's cool to get a hometown win for these guys."
Jones, who will become the youngest driver ever to start all three NASCAR National Series races in the same weekend at Texas, started from the fifth position and quickly advanced up to the runner-up position in the opening laps. Once in second, he slowly tracked down Matt Crafton and then worked his way around the two-time champion on lap 13. Once out front, the No. 4 Tundra began to distance itself from the rest of the field.
The Michigan native had opened up over a three-second lead when green-flag stops began on lap 45. On lap 47, crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned Jones to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment in an effort to tighten-up the Tundra for his young driver. During the stop, a lug nut got caught between the jack and the jack bolt and cost the team valuable time. When pit stops had cycled through on lap 50, the No. 4 team had fallen back to the runner-up spot.
The lone caution of the race occurred on lap 55, but with four fairly fresh tires and his driver happy with the handling of his Tundra, Fugle elected to keep his Toyota on the track. Six laps after the field went back green on lap 59, Jones maneuvered his way back around Crafton and once again slowly distanced himself from the rest of the field.
The Truck Series points leader had opened up over a four-second lead when he visited pit road for the final time on lap 98. Jones' lead remained at four seconds with under 30 laps remaining, but Suarez slowly but surely closed the gap as the race proceeded caution free to the finish.
With just over 10 laps remaining Jones lost time battling lap traffic and Suarez was able to get within two seconds of his teammate. Once Jones found open space again, he would cruise to victory, crossing the stripe 2.855 seconds ahead of the field.
Jones' victory was his third in the Truck Series in 2015 and his seventh across 38 career starts. Suarez's runner-up finish was his third in 11 starts in NASCAR's third division this season. Ryan Blaney finished third, while Matt Crafton and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-five finishers. Christopher Bell in KBM's No. 54 JBL Tundra finished eighth.
The 21st race of the 2015 season featured one caution for a total of five laps. There were seven lead changes among five drivers. Jones led over 100 laps in a race for the third time this season.
Jones will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Nov. 13 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. Live coverage of the Lucas Oil 150 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET. The Michigan native will be looking to collect his third consecutive win at the one-mile oval.