Teen Jones gets first win in 5th start in Truck Series

jutter@charlotteobserver.comNovember 8, 2013 

— The Truck was familiar, so was its location after the race, but the driver was not.

Erik Jones, making just his fifth start in the NASCAR Truck Series, earned his first series victory by holding off Ross Chastain in Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Jones was driving the No.51 Toyota usually reserved for team owner Kyle Busch, the Truck series’ all-time wins leader.

Jones, 17, became the youngest winner in series history.

“It’s unbelievable. This is all that I’ve ever wanted, right here, to be a winner in NASCAR,” Jones said from Victory Lane. “It’s hard to put it all into words right now. It hasn’t set in yet.

“This is what it’s all about.”

Chastain led on the final restart but Jones dove to the inside and moved back into the lead with eight of 150 laps remaining.

“Erik drove what he had. He had an awesome truck and he won with it,” Chastain said. “I could hold him off for a lap, but he was by far the superior truck.”

Meanwhile, Matt Crafton finished fifth and has all but clinched his first series championship. He holds a 46-point lead over Ty Dillon and will become champion once he takes the green flag in next Friday’s season finale at Homestead, Fla.

The championship will be the first for Crafton and fourth for Toyota since the manufacturer entered the series 10 years ago.

“We came here to do what we’ve done all year and that’s race,” Crafton said. “I was scared because I was losing about 90 percent of my brake pedal. I was really, really scared.

“It would be cool if we could have wrapped up the whole deal tonight, but at least all we have to do is start at Homestead.”

Crafton’s championship will also be the first for ThorSport Racing. Crafton and his teammate Johnny Sauter have led the Truck series standings the entire season.

“I’ll be able to sleep a lot better now, I can tell you that,” Crafton said.

Brendan Gaughan finished third and Dillon was fourth.

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