MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Erik Jones, who will make his third of five starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra in Saturday night’s American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway, believes that the “third times a charm.” After posting top-10 finishes in his track debuts at both Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway earlier this year, the rookie heads west for this weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event, a track he is familiar with, in hopes of picking up where he left off more than three months ago.
In 2012 Jones visited Iowa Speedway in the ARCA Racing Series where, despite feeling under the weather, qualified sixth and was racing for the win until a late-race spin forced him to settle for an 11th-place finish. Although, Friday’s practice session at the .875- mile track will be Jones first time on the track in a truck, the 17-year-old driver is confident he will pick up where he left off and he and his KBM team can focus more on getting the truck race ready.
During Jones’ three-month hiatus from the NCWTS, he was able to get behind the wheel of an ARCA car at Pocono (P.A.) Raceway with Venturini Motorsports. Starting in the fifth position, Jones took the lead from nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel after 23 laps and maintained the lead for over a quarter of the race. However, just after the halfway point, Jones was forced to restart at the tail end of the longest line due to a fuel miscalculation. With 20 laps remaining, Jones charged through the field and against all odds finished second.
Before climbing back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra this weekend at Iowa, Jones will take part in the ARCA Midwest Tour’s Howie Lettow 150 at the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin on Tuesday, July 9 in his family-owned late model. This is only Jones second late model appearance since beating now owner, Kyle Busch, for the win in the prestigious Snowball Derby.
Erik Jones, Driver of the No. 51 NCWTS ToyotaCare Tundra:
You raced at Iowa Speedway in the ARCA Racing Series last year. How will that help you in this weekend’s NCWTS event? “Iowa is a unique racetrack. It races like a short track, but has some of the tendencies of a bigger racetrack. It’s a hard line to fight against mechanical and aero grip, but I know we are going to be able to get that right and have a strong run at Iowa. Racing there with ARCA last year, I feel will give me a jumpstart on getting in the truck and giving good feedback right away to Rudy (Fugle). At Martinsville, and Rockingham, I had to spend a lot of the first practices really getting to know my way around the racetrack.”
Since your last appearance with KBM what have you been doing to keep yourself “race ready”? “It’s been tough to keep busy during the time off and not being at the racetrack. I raced an ARCA car at Pocono, but that’s all the racing I’ve been able to do. We are actually at Milwaukee Monday and Tuesday this week racing the late model, and it will be the first time back since January.”
Rudy Fugle, Crew Chief of the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra:
Are you looking forward to having Erik back in the truck this weekend at Iowa Speedway? “Yes. Erik is a young driver with a lot of talent. He had two impressive runs at Martinsville and Rockingham earlier this year and I look forward to working with him again at Iowa this weekend. It’s not easy at any age, much less 17, to get behind the wheel of a truck and be patient, give good feedback and make the right choices on the track. A lot of that is based on experience and Erik showed those qualities at two tracks he’s never been to, so I feel confident in a top five or even a win this weekend at Iowa, a track he has experience at, he has the talent to get it done.”
Erik Jones, No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra:
Chassis KBM05: Jones will pilot KBM05 in this weekend’s American Ethanol 200 powered by Enogen at Iowa Speedway. This Toyota Tundra has made five starts since 2011 and will make its second start of the 2013 season on Saturday. Most recently, Joey Coulter piloted the Tundra to a 15th-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April.
-Kyle Busch Motorsports PR