Date: May 8, 2015
Event: Toyota Tundra 250 (Race 4 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 1st / 11th (Running, completed 166 of 167 laps)
Winner: Matt Crafton of ThorSport Racing (Toyota)
It was shaping up to be one of the most memorable days in Erik Jones' promising young career, but ended as one of the most disappointing.
To start his day off, the 18-year-old racing prodigy paced final practice for his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut and then advanced to the final round of Cup Series knockout qualifying. On the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series side of the garage, he broke the Kansas Speedway track record with a lap of 30.101 seconds at 179.396 mph and earned his third career pole.
When the green flag dropped on the Toyota Tundra 250 Friday evening, it took little time for Jones to establish that he had that dominant truck. The Michigan native checked out from the field in the early stages of the 167-lap event, opening up a 1.5-second lead before the field was slowed for the first time for a one-truck accident on lap 11.
The talented youngster went on to lead 151 of the first 161 laps, opening up an 11-second lead just past the halfway mark, but was forced to relinquish the top spot when his No. 4 Toyota Tundra ran out of fuel with seven laps remaining and he coasted down pit road. The issue compounded when Jones was caught speeding entering the pits and after serving his pass-through penalty was left with a heartbreaking 11th-place finish.
"It just sucks -- we had by far the best truck," Jones said. "We were up to an 11-second lead at one point and it's just so terrible for this No. 4 team when we bring that fast of a Tundra and don't go home with the trophy. We couldn't bring the win home -- I saved as much as I could most of the run. The 19 (Tyler Reddick) made us run pretty hard. Being eight laps short, I don't know how the 88 (Matt Crafton) made it. It's too bad, we'll have to bring another fast Tundra next weekend to Charlotte and we'll go get a win there."
Crafton picked up his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of 2015 and the seventh of his career. Ryan Newman finished 8.339 seconds behind Crafton in the runner-up position. Johnny Sauter crossed the stripe in the third position, Timothy Peters fourth and Cameron Hayley rounded out the top-five finishers. Jones' KBM teammates Daniel Suarez and Justin Boston finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
The fourth race of the 2015 season featured four cautions for a total of 19 laps. There were 11 lead changes among five drivers, including Jones who led five times for a Truck Series career-high 151 laps. With four of 23 races on the 2015 schedule complete, Jones ranks third in the championship standings - 18 points behind Crafton and one behind Reddick.
Jones will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Dollar General Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action on May 15 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the N.C. Education Lottery 200 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.