Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Jones wins night race at Daytona

Chase Elliott Chase Elliott
Rita Gibson | 12 July, 2018, 17:42

Jones asked the crowd while being interviewed at the start-finish line. Stenhouse and his team experienced that the hard way on Saturday night, winning the first two stages but watching Erik Jones get the victory while the 17 came come 17th.

For Jones, a 22-year-old MI native driving in his first season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the breakthrough victory came in his 57th career start.

But hinging your success on the fickle nature of restrictor plate racing is perhaps the trickiest possible way to do things in NASCAR, as there are so many factors out of your control.

Last year's race victor, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., had the most memorable run of the night.

"I didn't think we had a shot to win it there about halfway", Jones said.

Truex finished second, followed by AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Chris Buescher. My first Cup win, my first win at Daytona, my first superspeedway win. The American automaker hasn't been to victory lane since and hadn't really gotten close to a checkered.

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That ended in a flash as Jones wrote a fairy tale finish to a crash-filled night by zipping past reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr., his former teammate at Furniture Row Racing, for the lead on the last lap of the second overtime. Harvick led the field to green on Lap 162 to start the first overtime, but he fell victim to the nine-car wreck before that circuit was completed. Both JTG-Daugherty Racing cars finished in the top-five for the first time and it was the third straight race at Daytona that both finished in the top 10... He started two early accidents that wrecked more than half the field and was part of two more cautions late.

Although it was a relatively early point in the race, Lap 53 proved to be one of the defining moments of the night. He went crashing off Stenhouse's bumper and chaos ensued.

But the Roush Fenway Racing driver didn't feel a need to apologize. The wreck occurred on lap 54 after contact between Brad Keselowski and Stenhouse near the front of the pack.

"There was a ton of torn-up cars so I figured we'd be able to salvage something", Larson said, not knowing there would be a few more added to the wreckage by night's end. Cars in the following group were swept into the accident. I thought we were out of it and all of a sudden we were right back in it, take the lead and ran away. Thanks to a push from Chris Buescher, Jones was able to get ahead of Truex Jr. and stretched the advantage to a couple of vehicle lengths as the field raced through Turns 3 and 4.

The first crash happened when Keselowski tried to go for the lead on William Byron, who threw a block. "I made the mistake of lifting instead of just driving through him, and that's my fault".

"I should have wrecked him and sent a message to the whole field". Following in the top 10 were Kyle Larson, Byron, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman.

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