Date: Oct. 12, 2013
Event: Winchester 400
Series: ARCA/CRA Super Series
Location: Winchester Speedway (.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 1st/1st (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Winner: Erik Jones of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)
The 43rd running of the Winchester 400 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway came down to a 40-lap duel between Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) driver Erik Jones, the defending race winner, and Travis Braden, the ARCA/CRA Super Series points leader. When it was all said and done, Jones stood tall in victory lane, firing the famed Winchester Rifle in Victory Lane for the second consecutive year.
Jones earned the pole position in qualifying on Saturday and then put his No. 51 Kyle Busch Foundation Project Pink Camry out front for 163 laps en route to the victory. The 18-year-old sharpshooter joins legend drivers Mike Cope, Mark Martin, and Bob Senneker in winning back-to-back in the Winchester 400, with Jones being the youngest to accomplish the feat.
“We got the toe knocked out a little bit on a restart battling hard with Travis Braden,” Jones stated. “It made the car tighter than it had been all day, but we fought hard and raced clean together. It was cool to battle hard and pick up our second 400. We come here for one reason and that’s to win these races, a lot of hard work from the KBM guys went into this No. 51 Kyle Busch Foundation Project Pink Toyota Camry and it’s very rewarding to be able to pick up another win with them.”
Starting the 400-lap race from the pole position, Jones took no time to show that he would have the car to beat, leading the first 87 circuits around the famed half-mile track. On the second of 12 cautions, the KBM pit crew changed the first of eight tires given to the teams by the Champion Racing Association (CRA). Electing to save the precious right-side tires for later in the race, the KBM pit crew placed left-side tires on the Kyle Busch Foundation/Project Pink Camry. Jones emerged first out of the pits, but would restart third on lap 100 due to two lead-lap cars electing not to pit.
Ridding for 175 laps on the same right-side tires that were on his Toyota when the race started, Jones reported that the handling of his No. 51 was “snug in the center” of the high banks. After Pitting for a second time, Jones restarted just outside the top five and didn’t see his KBM pit crew again until CRA threw a competition caution after a 75 lap green-flag run. Executing a fast pit stop for left-side tires and fuel, the KBM team allowed Jones to regain his position at the head of the field. The ninth caution came quickly thereafter on lap 313 and Jones was summoned to the pits for the final time to receive his last two right-side tires.
As the leader, Jones took the outside of second place car, Travis Braden, for the restart on lap 323. Charging into Turn 1 side-by-side, Braden hustled Jones up the track and the two knocked fenders. Braden emerged as the leader and the contact knocked the toe out of Jones machine and resulted in his Camry becoming “plowing tight” in the ensuing laps.
Braden remained out front until with 30 laps remaining, Jones pulled a slide job coming out of Turn 4 and brought the crowd to their feet. For the remaining circuits, Jones held off Braden from running the preferred line and on lap 400 the KBM driver crossed the finish line to receive his second consecutive Winchester 400 title.
The win was the third for KBM at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” with Jones scoring back-to-back victories and owner-driver Kyle Busch winning the event in 2009. KBM’s Super Late Model team is now five-for-five in 2014, with Jones winning at Winchester and the Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile, while Busch has picked up victories at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (Ind.), Kalamazoo (Mich.) Speedway and Autodrome Chaudière in Vallee-Junction, Quebec, Canada.
Next up, Jones will return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the No. 51 KBM ToyotaCare Tundra for the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, Oct. 18.
Erik Jones and the KBM Super Late Model Program would like to thank the following partners for their support during the Winchester 400: