Suspension Damage Derails Strong Run for Jones in Dirt Debut

Date:                           July 23, 2014

Event:                         1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic (Race 10 of 22)

Series:                         NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Location:                    Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (.5-mile clay oval)

Start/Finish:               1st / 29th (Running, completed 144 of 150 laps)

Winner:                      Darrell Wallace Jr. of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)


Erik Jones dirt debut got off to a promising start as the talented youngster turned the fastest lap of the day's two practice sessions, captured his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole, led wire-to-wire in his heat race and then led the first 24 laps of the 1-800-CarCash MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Jones cut a tire on lap 25 and shortly after spun bringing out the first caution of the race. After beginning to work his way back through the field, the ToyotaCare Tundra brushed the wall and suffered suspension damage. After the team made repairs on pit road, the No. 51 team returned to the track six laps down and limped to a disappointing 29th-place finish.

"We had a fast ToyotaCare Tundra from the start -- it was cool to sit on the pole here -- just wish we wouldn't have cut that tire," said Jones, who was making his first career start in any series on dirt. "I think we could've ran up front all night and been battling for the win at the end. Once we got back in traffic, it's hard to pass and we couldn't make it up. We ended up making contact with the wall and breaking something in the suspension. It's disappointing when you have such a fast truck and things don't play out. We're ready to head to Pocono -- I know we'll have a fast Tundra there."

After spinning off Turn 2 during the first of two qualifying laps, Jones rebounded to capture his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole with a lap of 19.913 seconds at 90.393 mph on his second lap. With the fast time in qualifying, the No. 51 ToyotaCare team earned the first starting position in the first of five 10-lap qualifying races. The Michigan native led wire-to-wire to earn the right to lead the field to green in the 150-lap main event.

When the green flag dropped, the 18-year-old picked up right where he left off in the heat, putting his ToyotaCare Tundra out front for the first 24 laps of the 150-lap event. On lap 25, Jones abruptly began falling backwards as he communicated to his crew that he had a right rear tire going down. A few laps later, the youngster spun and the field was slowed for the first time.

Jones brought his Toyota down pit road, where his Kyle Busch Motorsports crew replaced his right rear tire and returned the youngster to the track scored in the 26th position for the ensuing restart on lap 33. Slowly but surely, he began working his way back through the field. By lap 50 he was scored in the 15th position and on lap 80 he had maneuvered his way up to the 11th spot. Shortly after, the No. 51 Tundra brushed the wall and damaged the suspension, which lead to a flat right front tire. With another flat tire, Jones spun again and slowed the field for the second time on lap 38.

After the caution flew, Jones brought his Tundra to the attention of his crew. The team replaced the tire, cleared the fenders and returned their driver to the track one lap down. Back on the track, the Michigan native reported that his front brakes were not functioning properly and was forced to return to pit road. This time around, the team quickly repaired the suspension of the truck, but Jones was six laps down when he returned to the track. He was able to continue on the rest of the race, but limped to a disappointing 29th-place finish.

Darrell Wallace Jr. picked up his second win of 2014 and the third of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career. Ron Hornaday Jr. crossed the stripe 5.489 seconds behind him in the runner-up position. Ryan Blaney, Ken Schrader and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five finishers.

Wallace Jr.'s win was Toyota's 12th straight dating back to Jones' victory at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway last November, the longest win streak by any manufacturer in the history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. For KBM, it marked the team's 11th win across the last 14 Truck Series races, dating back to Wallace Jr.'s historic win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last October. 

The 10th race of the 2014 season featured seven cautions for a total of 33 laps. There were five lead changes among five drivers. With Wallace Jr.'s 97 laps led, KBM drivers combined to lead 121 of the 150 laps. The No. 51 team fell to second in the Owner's point standings, one point behind the No. 29 team.

Jones returns to the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Saturday, Aug. 2. Live coverage of the Pocono Mountains 150 on Fox Sports 1 begins with the Truck Series Setup Show at 1 p.m. ET.