Joe Gibbs Racing driver Brandon Jones used to think aggression was the quick way to calamity in superspeedway racing. Then he made a careful study and found otherwise.
“This year especially, I put a lot of time into kind of going back and studying,” said Jones, who hopes to use his knowledge to advantage in Saturday’s NASCAR Racing Experience 300 Xfinity Series race (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“Watching some fast races, and you see (Tyler) Reddick doing it so well, and I always thought in the past in practice that—I’m like Reddick is going to wreck the field doing this—but what you saw was him putting himself in race-position moves and he was really aggressive on those side-drafts and at the end of the race.
“He knew what he needed to do to win the thing. That was some stuff that I picked up on, and I was trying get in practice (on Friday). Also, things like keeping your car poked out to see how the runs were getting – things like that. I played around with that a bunch, and I think I’ve got a decent idea now of what we need to do.”
And that translates to calculated aggression.
“For sure,” said Jones, who is starting his fifth full Xfinity season. “There’s a lot of times you hear guys, especially rookies, coming into these races saying they just want to paint that bottom line–they just want to stay on that bottom, and I just don’t think that’s how you win the race. That’s how you be a consistent finisher and maybe get a top five, top 10 out of the deal.
“But if you want to win the thing, you’ve got to try to make those last-minute moves and pull out and try to suck those guys back side-drafting. It’s tough now, because we have so many good cars out there racing that almost no one wants to go with you anymore. You have to figure out how to do it yourself. You have to figure out how to leap-frog those cars and start working side-draft really aggressive.”