Late-Race Accident Derails Another Strong Run for Jones

Date:               June 13, 2015

Event:             Drivin' for Linemen 200 (Race 8 of 23)

Series:             NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Location:        Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. (1.25-mile oval)

Start/Finish:    1st / 23rd (Running, completed 145 of 160 laps)

Winner:           Cole Custer of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

 

After starting from the pole for Saturday night's Drivin' for Linemen 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., Erik Jones led a race-high 84 laps, but once again experienced misfortunes late in the event and was unable to collect that elusive first win of the season. Jones was in the runner-up position, chasing down race-leader Matt Crafton, with just under 20 laps remaining when contact with a lap truck resulted in terminal damage to his Special Olympics World Games Tundra and relegated him to a 23rd-place finish.

 

The Michigan native was leading the race when a stalled truck in Turn 2 brought out the fourth caution of the race with 42 laps remaining. Reporting a tight-handling Tundra for the majority of the event, Jones brought his Special Olympics World Games Tundra down pit road to the attention of his over-the-wall crew. Crew chief Rudy Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop and made an air pressure adjustment to try and loosen the handling for his driver in the closing stages. The combination of a slow pit stop, due to a tire getting stuck on the fender, and other teams electing to make a two-tire stop left the No. 4 team scored in the third position when the race restarted on lap 123.

 

Jones fell back to fourth on the restart, but within five laps had maneuvered his way into the runner-up position. He found himself half a second behind Crafton with 25 laps remaining, and slowly began to reel him as the laps wound down. He closed the gap to a third of a second on lap 143 as they both approached lap traffic. Jones dove to the bottom of a lap truck coming off Turn 4, but when the lap truck didn't leave him enough room, he got loose underneath him and the two made contact.

 

The Special Olympic World Games Tundra went spinning down the frontstretch and came to rest against the inside retaining wall just shy of the start-finish line. Jones was able to get back going momentarily, but the contact had caused damage to the battery box and before he could make it down pit road to the attention of his crew, his Tundra came to rest in Turn 1. A push truck escorted him to his pit stall, but the damage to the battery box was too severe to fix with just over 10 laps remaining and the No. 4 team was unable to finish a race for the first time this season.
Cole Custer picked up the second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of his career. Spencer Gallagher finished in the runner-up spot. Johnny Sauter crossed the stripe in the third position, while John Hunter Nemechek and Cameron Hayley rounded out the top-five finishers. Jones' KBM teammates Matt Tifft and Justin Boston were both involved in accidents and finished 25th and 27th, respectively.

 

The eighth race of the 2015 season featured six cautions for a total of 35 laps. There were nine lead changes among five drivers, including Jones who led three times for 84 laps.

 

With eight of 23 races completed, Jones fell one position in the championship standings. He currently sits fourth, 33 tallies behind points leader Matt Crafton.

 

Jones will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 Special Olympics World Games Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action on June 19 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. The talented youngster is the defending winner of the event, he picked up his first win of 2014 at the .875-mile oval last July. Live coverage of the American Ethanol 200 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.