Erik Jones Back Within Striking Distance
Behind the strength of five consecutive top-10 finishes, Erik Jones has slowly closed the gap in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championships standings. After a late-race accident relegated Jones to a 23rd-place finish at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., he found himself 33 points out of first place. Coming off a third-place finish last weekend at Michigan, the talented youngster has closed the gap to just nine points entering Wednesday night's UNOH 200 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Jones has tallied 209 championship points over the last five races, while points leader Tyler Reddick has scored 197 and reigning champion Matt Crafton has produced 177. The No. 4 Tundra team got the comeback started with a win at Iowa Speedway in Newton and followed it up with a second-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The last three races, the Rookie of the Year candidate has shown he has the veteran poise that it will take to win Kyle Busch Motorsports its first driver's championship, maximizing finishes and overcoming adversity.
At Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Jones ran around the 10th position for most of the race, but emerged with a fourth-place finish. At Pocono, he ran second for most of the race before getting spun out late, but was able to remain on the lead lap and gained six positions over the course of three green-white-checkered finishes to salvage a top-10 finish. Last week at Michigan, the home-state driver got shuffled back from third to ninth on a late restart and then after coming down pit road for adjustments under caution, found himself in the 17th position with 19 laps remaining. The talented youngster was able to make up ground quickly and brought home a third-place finish.
Wednesday night will mark Jones' first Truck Series start at Bristol, but he has competed in two NASCAR XFINITY Series events at the half-mile track. Last August, he qualified fourth and finished eighth in his Volunteer State debut. Earlier this year, he captured the pole and brought home a fourth-place finish.
The last three races, Jones has learned that you don't have to lead every lap and win every race to compete for a championship. The key is to minimize the bad days and post solid finishes every week. By following that game, KBM's young gun has put himself back within striking distance.
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