Brandon Jones Out Early at Daytona After Overheating

After 19 laps under the Friday night lights, the NASCAR Xfinity Series was postponed to Saturday afternoon to finish the Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Brandon Jones will not join the field after debris covered his front grill, overheating his car and losing too much water in the radiator. With 17 laps in the books, he will finish last in the 40-car field.

“I hate to go out like this,” Jones stated after he took his Toyota Supra to the garage.

Jones started third according to NASCAR’s metric qualifying due to COVID protocols still in effect. He was the highest Joe Gibbs Racing car to take the green flag. For most of the opening laps, he led the inside line while AJ Allmendinger led most of the laps blocking both the top and bottom lanes. Leading at restrictor plate tracks like Daytona or Talladega Superspeedway is a safe option to avoid big wrecks. However, it comes with the risk of being the first to pick up loose debris on the track.

In the opening laps, the No. 19 Menards/Patriot Lighting Toyota Supra picked up a clear plastic covering. It landed across the lower nose of his car, blocking the grill and eliminated all airflow to the radiator. For the next few laps, the car overheated, spewing water out the overflow. The team finally brought the car down pit road, but not before permanent internal damage was done and irreparable.

“I just think we picked up something on the front end of our Supra there,” Jones told NBC Sports. “We were pushing a lot of water out for a couple laps and they don’t run good without water in them. You don’t expect to go out like this at Daytona.

“You’re either on the hook or you’re doing really well. At this point in the race I thought we were doing really well. We were pushing a lot of water out for a couple laps and they don’t run good without water in them. I was surprised with how fast it went. Obviously, I think me and Jeff (Meendering, crew chief) are beating ourselves up pretty hard right. We both probably would’ve done something different there to try and get that off. When you’re out front like that no one really wants to try to work with you and try to get it off your nose. Obviously, for the reasons of a competitor I wouldn’t want to do that. It is what it is.”

It was a promising day for the 24-year old. Without a win yet in 2021, the untimely DNF puts him more in danger of missing the Playoffs. The reason is because the Xfinity Series regular season ends on September 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Between The World Center of Racing and The Last Great Colosseum, there are still four incomplete races left on the schedule (including Daytona’s race on Saturday). At the start of the race, Jones sat ninth in points, 87 points ahead of 13th.

Despite the misfortune, Jones is keeping his head and confidence high.

“I’ve got a group of warriors on our 19 team,” said Jones. “Michigan was great – that was awesome to see our speed there at Michigan so we’ll rally from that and use some momentum there. Darlington is a great track for us next week. We won there and [are] looking to get another one.”

The Xfinity race will resume with all remaining 39 lead-lap cars on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET, preceding the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale at 7 p.m. ET.

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