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Jagger Jones Returns Home for First Race at ISM Raceway

AVONDALE, Arizona — The Arizona Lottery 100 at ISM Raceway was the final stop on the circuit for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, but was also the first race in a NASCAR sanctioned series at his hometown facility for Jagger Jones.

“This is my first time racing here at ISM Raceway and it’s obviously so different from watching in the stands,” Jones told POPULAR SPEED.  “Growing up watching the races here and now being able to race here is super cool. I’m looking forward to it, it’s cool to be the local kid for once because usually I’m traveling all around the west coast – all around the country really for races, so it’s cool to race here in my hometown.”

The Scottsdale, Arizona-Native entered the series finale ranked second in the standings – and this was as high as he could soar, being that all points leader Derek Kraus had to do at the 1.5-mile speedway was start the race to lock up the 2019 Championship.

Jones would go on to put down a sixth-best qualifying lap, putting him on the outside of Drew Dollar to start the 100 Lap event.

“We have a really competitive field here this weekend,” the 17-year old admitted. “We’ve struggled a little bit on the bigger tracks for our series, so I think if we can get up inside the top-five it’ll be a good say for us.”

When the green flag waved atop the unique LED-cactus flag stand, Sam Mayer raced from the lead and did not surrender that position until 12 laps remaining – when race-winner Ty Gibbs passed him after the 16-year old made contact with Ty Majeski on a three-wide restart.

A good majority of the race was a product of single-file long-run racing in which Jones saw himself mainly battling with fan-favorite, Hailie Deegan for the eighth-spot.  After a healthy-dose of cautions in the final 30 laps of the race, Jones didn’t quite salvage that top-five he’d hoped to attain in pre-race, finishing sixth.

The driver of the No. 6 was able to hold on to the second-ranked position in the standings. He finished the year with eight top-fives, 11 top-10s, one pole award, 248 laps led and his first win – which came at All American Speedway in Roseville, California.

It’s safe to say that after what can be deemed an incredibly impressive season that Jones will be one of the young talents who will be in NASCAR for years to come.

“We’re setting up things for next season,” said the Arizona-native. “They’re changing the whole series in 2020, so we’re just trying to put everything together for that. Next year I want to run a lot of races and win as many as I can – those are my main goals for he offseason.”

EMAIL COLE AT: colecusumano88@gmail.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

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OBSERVATIONS: Star Nursery 100 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

“I knew it going to come down to the last lap once again….”

Hailie Deegan is currently regarded as one of the best young talents coming up in motorsports. She proved why on Thursday night at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track, and the fans were entertained in the process.

She showed speed throughout the Star Nursery 100 as she made moves forward, including a couple thrilling passes as she worked her way to the front. However, it appeared she’d fall short of winning for the second year in a row after moving into the runner-up position. After all, she had fallen almost five seconds behind Jagger Jones with 26 laps to go. Though nailing each lap, she continued to shave tenths of a second, bringing herself within two seconds with five laps to go.

Jones would find himself in lap traffic, and those cars would not move out of the way as the driver of the No. 6 would’ve hoped, as the bottom was the preferred line all night and where they tell lap cars to stay other places. Perhaps it was a bit of impatience, or maybe not having the knowledge of how to pinch himself underneath them, a he would get hung up on two occasions. The first would allow Deegan to close to within a couple car lengths, the second cost him the victory.

As Jones got hung up with Kenny Bumbera, a small space opened up between the tractor tire and them. Deegan would stick her nose in the hole, pushing Jones out a little (rubbing is racing, right?), and taking the lead. Although Jones tried to retaliate with the chrome horn going into turn three, it was not enough as Deegan kept it straight to the checkered flag.

To see Deegan win on a dirt track isn’t a surprise for any as she is known as a Dirt Princess, and perhaps that’s why she entered tonight with a chip on her shoulder. She felt she could have won the race last year, but ran out of laps in catching the leader. So for tonight, the attitude was simple as she said, “I wasn’t going to finish second again. I was going to win or wad it here.”

However, it marks her second win in the series following a victory last year at Meridan Speedway. It also marks her fifth straight top-seven finish on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West tour.

On the flip side, Jones may have been disappointed – and reasonably so as he figured he had it won, but he proved that he belongs in the series in just first start. The battle for the championship this year could be exciting as a pair of second generation racers, Deegan and Jones, go up against Derek Kraus for the title.

Kraus started off the night strong, leading the beginning stages, but his team failed to hit the set-up for the long haul. He fell back through the second half of the last run, crossing the finish line in sixth. 

Austin Reed also started off well as he won the pole via winning his heat race, but took a bit of a too aggressive approach to the event, going for a mid-race spin after making contact with Trevor Huddleston. He’d fight back for an ninth-place finish. 

Overall, the race was fun to watch. Although it started off slow with everybody running in a single-file line along the bottom, and it spread out in the end, there were some exciting moments. On top of Deegan’s last lap thriller, the final 15 laps before the competition caution at halfway saw some great racing back-and-forth between Kraus, Jones, Todd Souza, Deegan and Kody Vanderwal was worth watching. That said, it is hard to walk away from a dirt track and not be sad about missing someone sliding against the cushion. 

The season opener showed the talent these drivers are capable of, and gives us another reason to be thankful for FansChoice.tv for carrying the entire schedule free this year.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Jagger Jones

Jagger Jones is no stranger to motorsports, having grown up around it and watched the success of both his father P.J. Jones and grandfather Parnelli Jones. The 16-year-old is now trying to carve out his own career, and will race the full NASCAR K&N Pro Series West campaign in 2019. 

Recently, Jones spoke with POPULAR SPEED about the upcoming season and his career to date.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into the upcoming K&N Pro Series West season?

JAGGER JONES: I’m really excited for this year. It’s definitely a big step for me in my racing career along the path to achieve my goals, and I’m excited. I think I have a great team, and great people around me. I’m really looking forward to it.

PS: What are your goals and expectations?

JAGGER: I definitely am aiming for rookie of the year. I think that’ll be a pretty cool and achievable accomplishment for me. I also want to win some races, so those are two are my two goals so far that I have going into the season.

PS: What track are you most looking forward to getting to?

JAGGER: I’m really looking forward to – probably the first one is Kern (County), just because I’ve won a lot of races there before. I know how to get around that place and I have a lot of laps there so maybe have an advantage on some of the other guys there.

I’m also looking forward to the road course at Sonoma. I think that’s going to be really fun, and I love road courses. I grew up racing go-karts on road courses so I think that’ll be pretty fun to get back on the road course. I’m also looking forward to Phoenix for a hometown race.

PS: You mentioned Kern County. What did it mean for you to pick up the championship last season?

JAGGER: Oh yeah, it was super cool to get my first oval championship at Kern County, a track that is a pretty big track where a lot of people like Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick have raced at recently, and a place we’re going to go in the K&N West Series. So it was super cool to win there, and win the championship in the late model.

PS: What is the one moment from your late model season last year that stands out above all the rest?

JAGGER: I think last year was pretty cool getting to race back east with Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. and be able to win my first night out with that team, second team. It was super cool to go down to Myrtle Beach and score the win.

PS: How did you get started in racing?

JAGGER: So I just always grew up around the track with my grandpa and my dad. From when I was little, my whole life has evolved around racing; that’s all I’ve known. So my mom didn’t want me to become a racecar driver really, but it was determined to happen. There was no way around it. When I was little, I was always playing with toy cars or anything with wheels. So I’ve always just dreamed of becoming a professional racecar driver one day.

PS: Who is your racing hero?

JAGGER: I’d probably say Jimmie Johnson.

PS: We’ve seen a lot of drivers running different cars and series recently. What is a series/type of car that is on your bucket list to one day try?

JAGGER: I think one day definitely the Indy 500. Of course, I want to be racing full-time in the (Monster Energy) NASCAR Cup Series, and contending for wins in that. But outside of that, I think the Indy 500 would definitely be super cool to follow in my family history and race there.

PS: Having so much family involved in racing, what does it mean to have them to lean on for support and advice?

JAGGER: It definitely helps being involved and having a racing family. I mean, my dad is always there and my grandpa – I can always go to them and ask. But it’s also what they know, their experience, in putting me in the right position and just being involved with a lot of other people in the NASCAR world has really been a help for us. It’s good to know that I can go to my dad and ask for advice, really, for anything about the cars, or anything really around racing.

PS: If you were able to make it up the ranks and race in the Cup Series, what would that mean to you?

JAGGER: It’d definitely be a dream come true. Since I was little, I’ve been always watching NASCAR every week and pictured in my head me leading one day. So it would kind of just be – just getting there would be really cool. Then having success, that would be even greater. It would just fulfill my dream that I’ve had since I was a kid and hoped for, and now am on the path trying to achieve.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.