It was a Texas-sized moment in young Erik Jones’ NASCAR career.
Jones, an 18-year-old native of Byron, Mich., held off a pair of Sprint Cup Series veterans – including one more than twice his age – to win Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The win is the first for Jones in the Xfinity Series, where has made six starts this season. He competes fulltime in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
“I don’t even know what to say. This is surreal. I’ve always believed in myself growing up,” Jones said. “It’s just amazing. We beat Cup drivers tonight – that’s huge.”
Brad Keselowski finished second, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third, Regan Smith was fourth and Austin Dillon was fifth.
With 26 of 200 laps remaining, Jones’ pit crew got him off pit road first and he then held off a wild charge from Keselowski on the restart before Jones eventually cleared him and pulled away.
Three who mattered
Erik Jones: He had already turned heads with his performance in the Truck series. He’s likely now cemented a long NASCAR career.
Brad Keselowski: The former Cup champion had one of the fastest cars in the race and had to start from the rear due to an unapproved adjustment before the race.
Brendan Gaughan: Gaughan looked impressive early in the race then got caught up in a wreck when Cale Conley blew a tire right in front of him.
▪ There’s always a loud contingent of fans who complain about Cup drivers competing in the Xfinity Series but no one can argue that Jones’ performance Friday night wasn’t even more impressive considering he had to beat some of the Cup series’ best to earn the victory.
▪ Darrell Wallace Jr. seems to be picking up speed quickly in his first season in the Xfinity Series and looks like he will be contending for wins in no time. He hasn’t finished worse than 15th in a race this season.
Three tweets from Friday night’s race:
Where: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
TV: Fox Sports 1.
Radio: Performance Racing Network.