NXS: Erik Jones Wins O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas

Erik Jones will end the night celebrating in victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway after starting the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on the pole. Jones, driving the No. 20 GameStop Call of Duty WII Toyota, led the field for 142 circuits to score his third win of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Yeah, we did. I thought starting the race off, man we’re really fast, we’re really good, this is going to be a mostly dominant race for us and didn’t turn out that way,” said Jones after the race. “We led a lot of laps, but it seemed like we were really working for it, but you know that’s kind of the way it is. The XFINITY Series has really gotten tighter and tighter year by year and it’s been really close all year long, so just happy to get the GameStop Camry back in victory lane again. It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten a win, since they’ve gotten a win, so happy to come back to Texas again and grab another one.”

Jones made his 17th start of the season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and holds eight top five and nine top 10 finishes. The Michigan native has an average start of 5.2 and an average finish of 13.4.

Ryan Blaney nearly passed eventual race-winner Jones in the closing laps. However, with about four laps remaining, Blaney had to deal with some lap cars that stalled his run for the lead. The driver from North Carolina will leave Texas with a runner-up finish.

“I thought the track took another swing free with maybe 60 to go and got our car looser again but we were still able to run down the 20 and get to him but we just couldn’t pass him. Couldn’t pass anybody,” said Blaney. “Lap cars were all over the place. I thought it was a good night for us. It just stinks we couldn’t get around him. I thought we had a shot after the green-flag stop. I thought we were way better but we got held up a couple times by traffic. I thought we had the car to win, just a matter of trying to get in front of him and I couldn’t pass anybody. I tried to get him loose a couple times and couldn’t do it. I about wrecked myself trying to get him loose. It is really hard to get around anybody. Hopefully that gets a little better for tomorrow.”

The driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske Racing will leave with his 11th top five and 11th top 10 finish through 12 races.

Kyle Larson rounded out the top three finishers on Saturday evening. Larson led the field for four laps and had numerous issues throughout the event. At the end of stage two, Larson hit pit road while pit road was still closed. They realized what had happened and did not make a pit stop in their box. Since they didn’t stop in their pit box, and instead of having a tail of the field penalty, NASCAR allowed Larson to blend into the field where he came off of pit road.

The driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet from California has nine top five and 10 top 10 finishes this season. Through those 11 starts, Larson has a total of three victories.

Elliott Sadler and Cole Custer rounded out the top five.

Christopher Bell made his sixth NASCAR XFINITY Series start of the season on Saturday. Bell, from Oklahoma, entered Texas with momentum after going to victory lane the last time out at Kansas Speedway two weekends ago.

The young star in the Camping World Truck Series scored a sixth-place finish at Texas. In addition to his victory at Kansas, Bell now has two top five and four top 10 finishes.

Bell rebounded after spinning in turn two on lap 81.

Daniel Hemric started the day with a backup car after crashing hard late in final practice on Friday. Hemric, driving the No. 21 Blue Gate Bank Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, started sixth and finished one-lap down in 14th.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series will head to Phoenix International Raceway for the Ticket Galaxy 200. Coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET. on NBC. The Motor Racing Network will handle the live radio broadcast of the race.

Brett Winningham
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