Byron, Michigan (June 8, 2013) – Pocono Raceway with its three diverse corners is called the “Tricky Triangle” for a reason. It is also arguably one of the hardest superspeedways to make a debut on, yet 17-year-old Erik Jones looked like anything but a rookie, leading a quarter of the Pocono ARCA 200 on Saturday, June 8and bringing his No. 15 Toyota Care Venturini Motorsports Camry home in second place.
A rule change for the 2013 season by the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards allows Jones to run at Pocono Raceway and Kentucky Speedway. A test date early in the week gave Jonesa day to get acquainted with a different car, team, and how it felt to reach peak speeds of over 200 mph. Ending the test on top of the speed charts, Jones felt more at ease going into the race on Saturday.
“Coming out to the test was a big advantage for us today,” stated Jones after his second place finish. “It proved to be an asset since practice and qualifying got rained out on Friday. Starting order was determined by owner points, which the No. 15 was in fifth, so I knew we would still have a solid starting position.”
Nine time series champion, Frank Kimmel, took the lead early in the 80 lap race but failed to hold off Jones as he charged to the lead on lap 23. Gaining a nine second lead over the field, the teenager lost everything he gained because of a miscalculation of fuel, forcing him to coast around the 2.5 mile speedway. Slight trouble refiring the car and a pit road penalty, meant Jones would have to restart at the tail end of the longest line when the green flag flew.
Using the strength of his Toyota Camry motor, Jones worked through lap traffic and with less than ten laps to go, closed the gap of five seconds between him and eventual race winner Elliot to .676 seconds when the two crossed the start finish line. During the ten lap shoot out, Jones laid down the fastest lap of the day with a time of 53.072 seconds equating to 169.581 mph.
“Our big advantage today was how our car cut in the corners which allowed us to drive away from everyone,” said Jones after the race. “Kevin Reed and my Venturini Motorsports team gave me a great set up that worked the whole race. We knew we could go around 40 laps without running out of fuel and when a car stopped on the track we thought for sure the caution would come out, it just didn’t happen in time. This kind of second place finish is a little harder to swallow but I’m glad we were able to show off the strength of our Toyota motorand bring it back home in one piece .”
Jones will return to Pocono Raceway again with the ARCA Racing Series in August. Until then he can be seen returning to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the July 13 race at Iowa Speedway with Kyle Busch Motorsports.