Erik Jones Ride the Bottom and Stay on Top

Erik Jones and the No. 4 Toyota Racing team head to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the fred’s 250 with a four-point lead in the Truck Series championship standings with five races remaining. The team hopes that Saturday’s 94-lap race is an uneventful one, as Jones continues his quest to bring home Kyle Busch Motorsports’ (KBM) first-ever driver’s championship and the organization’s third consecutive and fourth overall owner’s championship.

The Truck Series championship points leader enters this weekend’s race with a streak of 10 consecutive top-10 finishes. After the eighth race of the season at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., Jones found himself fourth in points, 33 behind Matt Crafton. His recent run of top-10 finishes, which has included wins at Iowa Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont., has propelled him to the top of the championship standings, where he sits four points ahead of the two-time reigning champion.
Jones made his first-ever superspeedway start in last year’s Truck Series event at Talladega. The talented youngster avoided incident as he ran solidly inside the top 10 throughout the race and was scored in the fourth position when a late-race caution set up a green-white-checkered finish. After the field took the white flag he got shuffled outside of the top 10 through turns 1 and 2, but made a huge run down the frontstretch to catapult himself up to sixth before reaching the finish line.
The Rookie of the Year candidate got his 2015 Truck Series season off to a solid start at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February. Jones qualified seventh for the superspeedway event and logged an average running position of 3.7 throughout the 100-lap campaign. Nine trucks were lined up single file when the field took the white flag, including the No. 4 Tundra in the fourth position. Off of turn four, Scott Lagasse Jr., who ran third, looked to the inside of Austin Theriault for the second position. The two knocked doors and Jones quickly darted to the outside lane, while Ray Black Jr. went to the bottom lane and made it a four-wide battle for the runner-up position. Jones was able to nudge the trio to the stripe and earn an impressive second-place finish in his first career start at the “World Center of Racing.”
Jones’ strategy for this weekend’s race at Talladega is simple:  ride the bottom line, come out of the race with a top-10 finish and stay on top of the championship standings. Executing that strategy and avoiding “the big one” will be the difficult task.