17-year-old Erik Jones took advantage of several long green flag runs Saturdaynight and led more than 150 laps to win the Primera Plastics 200 at Berlin Raceway.
Jones won his first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race and became the third different driver to go to Victory Lane in the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota this season.
“What a relief,” Jones said after winning the race. “During those last 50 laps, I was hearing all kinds of noises in the car. I was just hoping it would stay together and nothing would break. It’s just amazing to come here and win.”
Jones finished ahead of Mason Mingus, in the No. 32 811 Call Before You Dig Toyota, and the 44 of Frank Kimmel in the Ansell-Menards Toyota. Cunningham Motorsports driver Austin Wayne Self and polesitter Mason Mitchell in the Happy Cheeks Ford rounded out the top five.
Jones finished second in June at Pocono Raceway, then last week was leading with two laps to go before hitting the wall and then subsequent engine trouble left him with a 12th place finish. He said winning at Berlin Raceway – his home track – is somewhat of redemption.
“I’ve made a few mistakes that have cost us a win, so this one is nice,” Jones said. “I’ve probably raced this track about 10 times in a late model. I’ve had good late models and bad late models, but I’ve never won here. Last year, in the ARCA race, I finished third. Winning here is really nice.”
The race was finished in 1 hour and 14 minutes and had four cautions for 21 laps.
Mitchell, driving for Empire Racing, set a track record in winning the Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell award. He had a nice run early, leading the first 42 laps.
Self continued his impressive ARCA Racing Series season with another top five finish. In four races this season for Cunningham, Self has finished sixth, second, tenth and now fourth.
“This team really works hard,” Self said. “We had a good car. Every time I get in the Cunningham Motorsports Dodge I know I am going to have a good car. I just try and be patient and not make mistakes out there.”
Mingus, the SCOTT Rookie Challenge point leader, finished second for the third time this season. Last year at Berlin, his car broke before turning a lap.
“Last year was tough break,” he said. “We all really wanted to run well. When we unloaded, the car was not very good. If someone would have told me we would finish second when we first started in practice, I would probably have laughed at them. The team made some adjustments and changes and really worked hard on the car.”
Kimmel didn’t get his 80th all-time series victory but did continue his top 10 streak. He’s now finished in the top 10 in 24 consecutive ARCA races, including all 14 this season.
Venturini Motorsports drivers Justin Boston in the ZLOOP Computer & Electronics Recycling Toyota and Clint King in the No. 55 Speedrack-Nashville Wire Toyota finished sixth and seventh. Tom Hessert rebounded from early troubles in his Barbera’s Autoland Dodge was eighth, Josh Williams in the Roulo Brothers Racing Ford ninth and Kelly Kovski in the Hooser Tire-Midwest Allgaier Motorsports Dodge 10th.
Michael Lira, driving for Bill Kimmel Racing, making his ARCA debut, was 11th, two laps down.
Jones credited his crew chief, Kevin Reed, for making the call for two tires on the team’s first stop and four fresh tires on the second, which came with 52 laps remaining when Jones was the first of the lead laps cars off pit road, further cementing his chances at a victory. The race remained green the rest of the way.
“Kevin made a great call,” Jones said. “The team did such a great job for me tonight.”
ARCA Racing PR