For the first time in 2015, @Erik_Jones is a contender for the Camping World Truck Series championship.
The 19-year-old rookie for Kyle Busch Motorsports entered the season with plenty of fanfare and gifted with high expectations. But when the racing began, Jones couldn’t buy a break. And although he sat top-three in points, it once appeared the deficient was becoming too much to overcome.
Though it wasn’t without trying, Jones went winless through the first eight races. If it could go wrong, it did for Jones. Even as he collected three poles and led 480 laps in those eight races. Then when the series arrived at Iowa Speedway on June 19, Jones finally broke through when he led 112 of 200 laps to win from the pole.
Now the momentum has swung in the opposite direction.
Saturday, Jones knocked down his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. The streak started in Iowa. Teammate and boss @KyleBusch won the Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway as Jones charged through two late cautions to wind up third.
“We were just a little off all day, unfortunately. We had to work pretty hard to get it where we needed it to be and had to pit there with like 25 (laps) to go or so and loosen it way up,” Jones said afterward. “It wasn’t quite enough of what we needed, but it got us close, and we were able to make some good moves on restarts and get back up to third.”
More importantly, it was the cliché good points day the driver needed. As @TylerReddick continues to enjoy his recent ascent to the top of the standings, Jones remains third behind two-time and defending champion @Matt_Crafton.
Now, however, he’s within nine points of the leaders as he’s knocked off 24 points since leaving Gateway.
“That’s a good points day for us, we’re only nine back, and that’s really nice to say, really nice to feel for the first time this year – we’re back in it,” said Jones. “We just have to keep doing the same thing and keep having these good weeks and keep having good trucks. We’ll have our Tundra up there before too long.”
Saturday was also a homecoming for Jones, a native of Byron, Michigan. This week he spent time at home with family and even traveled the 90 minutes back and forth. The 200-mile event was the first time Jones made a start at his home track.
“It was exciting, I felt like we learned a lot throughout the day, not only my team, but myself about how to get around this place and felt like maybe next time we’ll have the truck a little bit better with practice next time,” Jones explained of his first Michigan race. “It was a learning day overall and enjoyed the race – it’s definitely chaotic on restarts.
“Just makes it exciting when you’re on offense trying to come back through the field, just a tough racetrack, honestly with the racing is with the trucks as close to wide open as we are you really have to get yourself into the right spot at the right time, and that’s not always the easiest thing to do.”
Neither is winning the championship, but if Jones goes on to do so, he might look at Michigan as part of the catalyst.
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