By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
For a moment, the Daytona International Speedway Road Course appeared to be a repeat of the season-opener for Brandon Jones. Despite an accident on pit road, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver recovered to earn a top-five finish.
One week ago, Jones crashed at the end of the second Stage. In the Super Start Batteries 188, the driver of the No. 19 Menards / Barracuda Toyota Supra again was in an accident at the end of the Stage 2. This time, as the field exited pit road, Jones ran into the back of Myatt Snider. After a trip back down pit road for repairs, the 24-year-old rejoined the race.
“What led to our damage was, coming off of pit road, we were on cold tires,” admitted Jones. “As soon as we came off of pit road, I was looking at my tac, popped my head up and all that I hear is my spotter Stevie (Reeves) saying check-up, check-up. I think it was a combination of cold tires sliding across the racetrack, I was trying to get it out of first gear so it would stop bucking me into the wreck.
“We came down pit road after that and really did a good job of making those repairs that we needed. Actually, I think we got the car back pretty much to what it was when we started the race. We were really, really close on our balance, so that was a really good job by those guys to get that back.”
Jones spent the rest of the final Stage climbing back up through the field. After a quick caution the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver was back inside the top-15. Over the next 10 laps, Jones picked off a handful of positions before another caution sent the race into overtime. While most of his competitors pitted, Jones stayed on track.
The Atlanta, GA native narrowly missed the calamity on the first attempt at overtime and jumped into second. On the second, and final, overtime, Jones slipped back to fourth, where he took the checkered flag.
“I thought we had a really solid Supra all day long,” explained Jones. “Thought that throughout the day we had consistent speed to pretty much run top three throughout the day. I don’t think we had the car to completely dominate the race, but definitely one that would run up front throughout the race.
“To hold everybody off at the end on four old tires, that was a testament to the team that we are bringing to the table to compete this year for a championship. We were able to rally back from the tires and the damage and still have a top-five out of that. It was a solid day for us. I think two top-fives on that road course is a really good improvement.”
After his wreck in last week’s Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner 300, Jones started 39th at the Daytona road course. Despite two quick cautions in the first Stage, he was unable to break into the top-10 to score stage points. Jones did finish the second Stage inside the top-10, in seventh, netting four points.
The fourth-place finish is the 20th top-five finish in Jones’ Xfinity Series career. The top-five also allowed him to jump from 29th in the points standings to 10th. Jones is 57-points behind leader Austin Cindric.
Next for Jones is the Contender Boats 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, Feb 27.
Feature Photo Credit: NKP / NKP Photo