By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Brandon Jones kept his nose clean, crediting his extra seat time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with a top-five finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
In the final Stage of the B&L Transport 170, Jones ran inside the top-five. His No. 19 Menards / Swiffer Toyota Supra battled with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ty Gibbs, as well as Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, and eventual race winner AJ Allmendinger. A late caution for Jeb Burton set-up a four-lap shootout to the finish.
Jones lined up just outside the top-five coming to the green. In the chaotic scramble, Cindric dropped down the running order in turn one. At corner exit, the hectic racing saw Jones and Cindric’s No. 22 PPG Ford Mustang collide. The Ford Performance driver went spinning while Jones continued unfazed. Another crash later in the lap pushed the race into overtime.
In overtime, Jones slipped by Andy Lally for fourth. However, he had nothing to challenge Allmendinger, Gibbs, or Haley for position. When Jones took the checkered, he was fourth.
“This was awesome,” explained Jones. “I mean, I know it’s not a win, but it’s almost a win for me. Road courses just aren’t our strong suit, but we put a lot of time into it, go to a lot of different schools to learn how to do it. So, this is big. I said I want to finish top-six, that would have been a big day for me and so top-five is even better.”
With no practice or qualifying at Mid-Ohio, Jones competed in the ARCA Menards Series Dawn Ultra 125. He started third and finished fourth after leading four laps in the No. 25 Tide / Bounty Toyota Camry for Venturini Motorsports.
“Thanks to Menards, Swiffer, everyone that did so much for us this weekend,” stated Jones. “I had the ARCA race yesterday with Menards. I think truthfully, that prepared me for the day as well. So, I guess I’m becoming a road racer. I guess we’ll see if we can get a win soon.”
Jones started seventh because of NASCAR’s metric qualifying formula. A caution-filled first Stage left the 24-year-old sixth. A late caution in Stage 2 opened the pit strategy. Jones ended the second Stage in second. The Stage finishes netted him an additional 14-points.
The fourth-place finish is Jones’ sixth top-five finish and the 25th of his Xfinity Series career. It was also the third top-five on a road course for the Atlanta, GA native.
The top-five finish moved Jones up from 11th in points to eighth. He is 21-points ahead of the playoff cutoff, held by Noah Gragson. Jones is 213-points behind leader Cindric.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo