MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 3, 2013) – Last year Erik Jones entered the gates of Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. as a relative unknown, this year he returns as the defending champion of the Snowball Derby and one of the most promising young talents in all of NASCAR. However, as irony would have it, the 17-year-old will be defending his title during the 46th Annual running of the prestigious event on Dec. 8 in the same machine he defeated one year ago, the No. 51 Camry for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), which this year will have primary sponsorship from Phoenix Construction.
“Words can’t describe how great it would be to have my name along with Rich Bickle and Augie Grill as the few to get back-to-back wins,” Jones stated. “Last year’s win was huge for my career and provided me with the opportunity to be here this year driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Having Phoenix Construction onboard this time around really means a lot. James Finch is a true racer who has done a lot for the sport over the years and has provided opportunities to a lot of talented drivers, so I’m honored to have him onboard our No. 51 Camry this weekend.”
“I’m proud to be able to support a great young talent like Erik in one of the most prestigious racing events in the country,” Finch said. “He made a name for himself winning the event last year and now that he has aligned with Kyle and KBM, he is going to be tough to beat this year. I’m looking forward to cheering the No. 51 on this weekend.”
Jones memorable triumph in last year’s event, where he outdueled NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch in a side-by-side battle in the closing laps, will forever be stamped as the turning point in his racing career. Driving for his family-owned team in his first Snowball Derby attempt, the then 16-year-old led a race-high 124 laps to collect the victory over a field that included NASCAR regulars Busch, David Ragan, and Nelson Piquet Jr. along with former race winners Augie Grill, Johanna Long and Chase Elliott.
“It’s a feeling that’s hard to come by,” Jones remarked about last year’s win. “Winning a race like the Snowball Derby -- that has more history and prestige than most races -- really is special. It’s a race where you have everyone from the local guys up to the NASCAR guys that come down to run this prestigious event. We are all on an equal playing field, which is a rare happening, so winning it as a nobody makes it just that much more special.”
Shortly after the Michigan native’s prestigious victory, Busch signed the talented youngster to a five-race schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for 2013. The racing prodigy took advantage of the opportunity, finishing inside the top 10 in every start, including his final start at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in November where he led a race-high 84 laps en route to becoming the youngest driver to win a NASCAR National Series event.
In addition to his time contributing to KBM’s No. 51 Tundra’s owner’s championship this season, Busch added three of the biggest Super Late Model events in the country to his young driver’s schedule. In his debut behind the wheel of the No. 51 Camry, Jones led the final 49 laps en route to victory in the prestigious Winchester 400. The Michigan native also drove KBM’s entry in the All-American 400, but after getting caught up in a late-race accident was relegated to a 16th-place finish.
Jones hopes that he can close out an already impressive 2013 campaign - which saw him register wins in the Truck Series, the ARCA Racing Series and in the Super Late Model Winchester 400 - by bringing home back-to-back Tom Dawson Trophies.
“2013 has been a great year -- we were finally able to get a win in the ARCA Racing Series and then were able to follow that up with a win in the Winchester 400 and topped the year off with the win in the Truck Series race at Phoenix. If we were able to finish the year with another Derby win, I’d be just as speechless as I was last year. I really can’t wait to get to the track. ”
Jones will kick off the week of events on Wednesday for the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Green Flag party, where he will draw for the Snowball Derby qualifying. Thursday he will strap into the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Toyota Camry for the first time during practice from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. CST. Friday will continue with practice and WXBM Pole Position Snowball Qualifying at 6 p.m. More practice will take place early on Saturday and the green flag will drop for the 46th Annual Snowball Derby 300 at 2 p.m. on Sunday Dec. 8. For more information on the schedule of events visit www.5flagsspeedway.com
Notable wins for the KBM Super Late Model team since its inception in 2007 include: Wisconsin All-Star 100 at the Milwaukee Mile (Kyle Busch 2008), Red Bud 300 at Anderson Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009), Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009 & Erik Jones 2013), Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009), SpeedFest at Lanier National Speedway (Kyle Busch 2009 & 2010), SpeedFest at Watermelon Capital Speedway (Kyle Busch 2012), Rowdy 251 at Berlin Raceway (Kyle Busch 2010, 2011 and 2012), All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TJ Reaid 2010), Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway (Kyle Busch 2011) the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (Kyle Busch 2011) and the Howie Lettow Memorial at the Milwaukee Mile (Kyle Busch 2013).