Erik Jones Looking to 'Construct' History with Snowball Derby Hat Trick
It's as easy as one, two, three. At least that is what 18-year-old Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) driver Erik Jones will be repeating to himself until the checkered flag waves at the conclusion of the 47th running of the Snowball Derby Super Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. this Sunday, Dec. 7.
With his victory in last year's event, Jones became just the third different driver to record back-to-back Snowball Derby victories. Now, the talented youngster will look to 'build' on an already impressive resume as he takes flight in his No. 51 Phoenix Construction Toyota Camry this weekend looking to make history as the first driver in the history of the prestigious race to score a hat trick and collect the Tom Dawson Trophy in three consecutive years.
Rich Bickle, who collected a record five Derby victories, put together consecutive wins in both 1990-1991 and 1998-1999. Bickle finished 36th in his attempt at a hat trick in 1992 and did not enter the 2000 event. Augie Grill brought home the Tom Dawson Trophy in 2007 and 2008, but after leading 67 laps of the 2009 event was involved in accident and relegated to a 31st-place finish.
"The Snowball Derby is a very special race to me -- that first win in 2012 is what really
jump-started my career." Jones stated. "To go back now for the third time and have the chance to become the first driver to win in three consecutive years is just unfathomable. I've been able to match some of the records that have been set by other legends in the short track world, but to break one would be the ultimate accomplishment."
Jones entered his first Snowball Derby in 2012 as a relatively unknown 16-year-old from Byron, Mich. driving for his family-owned team. After a challenging year behind the wheel, he was questioning what his future would hold after the December race. In the closing laps of the 45th running of the prestigious Super Late Model race, the hot shoe drove around NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch to capture the victory that will forever mark the turning point in his growing career.
Shortly after Jones' Derby triumph, Busch signed the teenager to co-drive the No. 51 KBM Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The racing prodigy has capitalized on his part-time schedule the last two seasons, collecting four wins and two pole awards across just 17 starts while contributing to the team's back-to-back Truck Series Owner's Championships.
In addition to his successful Truck Series campaign in 2014, Jones was signed by Joe Gibbs Racing for a three-race schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he yielded top-10 finishes in each start. He also went two-for-two behind the wheel of KBM's Super Late Model, winning the Howie Lettow Memorial at the Milwaukee Mile in June and collecting his second consecutive Winchester 400 victory and Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in October.
"2014 was a great season for me -- the guys at KBM did a great job building fast race cars and trucks for every event we entered and it was a great next step in my racing career to be able to compete in a few Nationwide Series races with Joe Gibbs Racing," Jones said. "We were able to get a few more wins in the Truck Series, had solid runs in the Nationwide Series and went undefeated in the late model. I hope we can keep that undefeated streak going this weekend at the Derby. The goal is always to be on the lead lap and in the top 10 on lap 50. If you can do that you have a shot at the win."
Jones will kick off the week of Snowball Derby events on Wednesday for the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Green Flag party, where he will draw his spot in the qualifying session for the Snowball Derby. Thursday he will strap into the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Toyota Camry for the first time during practice from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. CST. Friday will continue with practice and WXBM Pole Position Snowball Qualifying at 6 p.m. More practice will take place early on Saturday and the green flag will drop for the 47th Annual Snowball Derby 300 at 2 p.m. on Sunday Dec. 6.
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