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Jun 10, 2014 - 04:50 PM
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2014 Texas: Erik Jones NASCAR Truck Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jun 10, 2014 - 04:45 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Texas: Erik Jones NASCAR Truck Race Preview


For the first time since weeks two and three on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, Erik Jones will be behind the wheel of Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra for consecutive events. Coming off an 11th-place finish in his Truck Series mile-and-a-half debut last week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Jones will make his first start at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill, a 1.25-mile flat oval.

 

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While it will be the first time the 18-year-old will race at Gateway, he already seems to have a knack for tracks with similar layouts. Last November, in just his fifth career start, he became the youngest winner in Truck Series history when at the age of 17 years, five months and nine days he led a race-high 84 laps en route to victory in the Lucas Oil 200 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, a flat one-mile oval. Jones is also fresh off a victory this past Sunday in the ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Model Series Howie Lettow Memorial 150 at the Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile, another flat one-mile oval.

In KBM's lone start at Gateway in 2010, Brian Ickler started 10th and finished ninth. Although the organization has only raced once at the flat oval, they have a strong history of success on similar tracks. Jones victory at Phoenix last season was the third consecutive for the team at the Arizona track. Brian Scott won the 2012 event and owner-driver Kyle Busch was victorious in the 2011 race. Busch and his team have also dominated the two Truck Series events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The Las Vegas native was victorious in both events held at the one-mile oval, leading a combined 321 of 350 laps.

Jones is in the midst of a stretch that will see him driving the No. 51 Tundra in five of six races, starting last week at Texas and continuing through Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in August. The Michigan native is ready to get in a rhythm behind the wheel and continue to show the racing world why he is one of the top young talents in all of NASCAR.

Erik Jones, Driver of the No. 51 NCWTS ToyotaCare Tundra:

Will being in the truck on a more consistent basis these next few months be helpful?
"It's big being able to get in the truck every weekend and being able to get a feel for what I need. It also helps being able to work with the guys on this No. 51 Tundra team week in and week out and being able to gel with everyone. I feel like the more you can race, the better prepared you are."

Are you looking forward to the extra practice time this weekend?
"I was looking at the schedule and couldn't believe how much practice time we have. Any time that you are given more practice time it is important to take advantage of it. It's my first time at Gateway, so it will help with being able to get a feel for the place. I know we have a lot of different things we are going to be working on Friday and hopefully along the way we will hit on something that will help us be fast in the race."

You've won in a truck at Phoenix and won last week in a Super Late Model at the Milwaukee Mile, have you always been successful on flatter tracks?
"I was telling one of the guys on the late model team before the race at Milwaukee that early on in my career I never had a lot of success on the flatter tracks. For some reason though, I've been really good on the flat tracks the last couple races. KBM has a really good flat-track program -- they've had a lot of success at places like Phoenix and New Hampshire. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going this weekend at Gateway. I'm really excited to be racing there this weekend -- I've never been there but I've heard from a lot of guys that it is a really cool track. I know that the guys are bringing a really strong Tundra for me and I'm confident that we can run up front and contend for the win."

Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 51 NCWTS ToyotaCare Tundra:

Is Gateway similar to other tracks on the schedule?
"Gateway is similar to flat tracks like Loudon and Phoenix, which are places where we have been very successful at here at KBM, so we expect to run well again this weekend. The setup we will unload with this weekend will be very similar to what Erik had underneath him for his win last year at Phoenix. Although we haven't raced at Gateway in a few years, as a group we've raced there enough that we have some good notes to go off. I don't think it really is going to have changed much since we were there in 2010."

Erik Jones' No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra:

KBM-14: The No. 51 ToyotaCare Racing team will roll out KBM-14 for Saturday's Drivin' For Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. Jones piloted the same Tundra in his 2014 season-debut at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March, where he had a top-five run going until getting wrecked late in the race and being relegated to an 18th-place finish. The Toyota was built new for the No. 18 team last year and made five starts with Joey Coulter behind the wheel, including a runner-up finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in April.

Erik Jones 2014:
In his first Super Late Model start of 2014, won the Howie Lettow Memorial 150 ARCA Midwest Tour race at the Milwaukee Mile (6/8/14)
Qualified fifth and ran inside the top five for the majority of the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth before the combination of a loose-handling Tundra and varying pit strategies left him with an 11th-place finish (6/6/14)
Had a top-five run going in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway before getting spun late in the race and ending the day with a disappointing 18th-place finish (3/30/14)
Erik Jones 2013:
At 17 years, five months and nine days old, became the youngest winner in the history of the NCWTS with his victory in the November event at Phoenix International Raceway (11/8/13)
Became the first 16-year-old to compete in a NCWTS race since KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch in October of 2001, went on to finish ninth in his debut at Martinsville Speedway (4/6/13) and recorded top-10 finishes in all five of his series starts
Collected first ARCA Racing Series victory at Berlin Raceway (8/10/13) and registered two top-five and three top-10 finishes across four starts
Became just the third driver in the 46-year-history of the prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway to register back-to-back victories (12/8/13)
With a victory in the Winchester 400 Super Late Model race at Winchester Speedway, became the sixth driver in history to post victories in both that race and the Snowball Derby (10/13/13)
Erik Jones 2012:
Won the prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., outdueling KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch in the closing laps to secure the victory (2/2/12)
Became the first 15-year-old driver ever to compete in the ARCA Racing Series, making his debut at the Mobile ARCA 200 at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway (3/10/12)
Posted four top-five and five top-10 finishes while leading a total of 103 laps across 10 ARCA starts
Kyle Busch Motorsports' No. 51 Tundra:
Kyle Busch has won all four of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season, capturing victories at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Dover (Del.) International Speedway
Erik Jones has an average finish of 14.5 and average starting position of 4.5 in two starts this season, Jones produced a season-best 11th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last week
In 2013, produced a series-leading six wins (Kyle Busch -5, Erik Jones- 1), 505 laps led and 11 top-five finishes en route to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner's Championship
In 2013, Kyle Busch registered five wins, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 7.0 across 11 starts
At the age of 17 years, five months and nine days, Erik Jones became the youngest winner in NCWTS history with his win in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway (11/8/13)
In five starts in 2013, Jones led 84 laps en route to two top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 6.0
KBM NCWTS Program
Has won seven of the last 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races dating back to Darrell Wallace Jr.'s victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last October
Has collected two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner's Championships, 29 Truck Series victories and 14 poles across 169 starts since originating in 2010
Six different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 23. Denny Hamlin has two victories for his teammates' Truck Series operation, while Erik Jones, Kasey Kahne, Brian Scott and Darrell Wallace Jr. have all collected one win
KBM NCWTS @ Gateway
Brian Ickler started 10th and finished ninth in KBM's lone Truck Series start at Gateway Motorsports Park in 2010.

The Phillips File:
Eric Phillips, the winningest crew chief in Truck Series history, picked up his 31st career series victory with Kyle Busch in the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on May 30. The Illinois native has visited victory lane with eight different Truck Series drivers and 20 different tracks in his 10 seasons atop the pit box. He led KBM to a Truck Series Owner's Championship and series-leading eight wins in its inaugural campaign in 2010 and overall in four seasons at KBM has guided the team to 21 wins with four different drivers.

Phillips' Truck Series drivers have registered one win (Mike Skinner, 2009), two top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 9.7 across six starts at Gateway Motorsports Park.

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