Date: June 8, 2014
Event: Howie Lettow Memorial 150
Series: ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Model
Location: Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile (1-mile oval)
Qualified/Finished: 3rd / 1st (Running, completed 150 of 150 laps)
Winner: Erik Jones of Kyle Busch Motorsports
After graduating from high school on the stage on the frontstretch of Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and making his mile-and-a-half debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday night, 18-year-old Erik Jones headed to the Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile looking to add another prestigious Super Late Model win to his already impressive resume.
In Sunday's ARCA Midwest Tour Howie Lettow Memorial 150, the talented youngster made it to the front of the field for the first time on lap 92 and held serve on several late restarts to make it two-for-two for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in the event. The win was Jones' third in four races behind the wheel of KBM's No. 51 Super Late Model, after picking up wins in the Winchester 400 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. last season.
"Winning the Howie Lettow Memorial means so much to a late model driver," Jones stated. "He was a legend in our sport and I'm proud to have my name represented as a winner of his race. The KBM guys worked over time for me and I couldn't have asked for a better ToyotaCare Camry. We struggled in practice on Saturday, but the guys stayed late that afternoon and it paid off today."
Jetting to Milwaukee only a few hours off his 11th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), the fresh high school graduate had only two hours of practice to readjust to the feel of a SLM. It had been six months since his last appearance in one, back in December when he defended his Snowball Derby title. Frustrated with a lack of speed in Saturday's practice sessions, the KBM team worked overtime Saturday afternoon to find a malfunctioning spring. The next morning with all issues resolved, the 18-year-old laid down a lap that placed him third of the 38 cars attempting to make the event.
As practiced in the ARCA Midwest Tour, a dice was rolled to determine an invert, which moved Jones back to the 10th position to start off the 150-lap race. Before the first of three competition cautions, where the field was frozen allowing teams the chance to pit per regulations, Jones found himself sitting in the second position. No handling complaints came over the radio; however the crew heard concerns of his motor heavily hitting the chip on entry. Still displaying enough speed to be considered one of the strongest cars on the track, the call was made to hold out for another 37 laps until the second break and further evaluate the situation.
On lap 75, the yellow flag was displayed marking the beginning of the second break and Jones and the rest of the field filed down pit road. The KBM crew had four laps by the pace car (approximately 4 minutes and 30 seconds) to change a gear (to resolve the motor issues), right side tires, and fill the Camry with fuel. Successful in their efforts, Jones emerged in his frozen second-place position.
When the green flag dropped for the second half of the race, drivers began to make daring moves that shuffled Jones all the way back to fourth. Yet, 15 laps later the No. 51 ToyotaCare Camry rebounded and was able to take the lead. Following in Jones' footsteps was fellow NCWTS driver Johnny Sauter, who later would retire to the garage with engine issues.
The third and final break would lead to a 37-lap shootout. Try as they may, no one had anything for the driving power inside the No. 51 and Jones went on to claim another prestigious Super Late Model victory. Griffin McGrath finished 1.4898 seconds behind Jones in the runner-up position. Chad Finley, John Hunter Nemechek and Tim Sauter rounded out the top-five finishers.
Jones will be back behind the wheel of his KBM No.51 ToyotaCare Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin' for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. Saturday, June 14.
Jones and the KBM Super Late Model program would like to thank the following partners for their support during the Howie Lettow Memorial 150: