Erik Jones completes two-track weekend sweep

JOLIET, IL - JUNE 21: Erik Jones, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Owens Corning AttiCat 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 21, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
JOLIET, IL - JUNE 21:  Erik Jones, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Owens Corning AttiCat 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 21, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
JOLIET, IL – JUNE 21: Erik Jones, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Owens Corning AttiCat 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 21, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

JOLIET, Ill. — Erik Jones’ last-ditch push had a victory payoff on Sunday.

Neck-and-neck with Ryan Blaney entering the final dozen laps, Jones finally slipped ahead after a restart and rolled to a 1.958-second victory margin in Sunday’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway.

“I got the inside of him and just barreled into (turn) three as hard as I could to clear and slid in front,” said Jones, who started 11th in his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. “Fortunately it worked and he didn’t try to cross us over or anything else.”

Jones claimed his second NASCAR XFINITY Series race of the season, recorded his eighth top 10 series finish and completed a weekend sweep that included Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway.

Jones, the youngest NASCAR driver to win two races in the same weekend, has run in all three series this season.

Time behind the wheel has proven invaluable for the 19-year-old driver.

“It seemed like last year I’d be into these situations and be so nervous,” he said. “This time its like ‘I’ve got this.’ I felt like I’ve done it so many times throughout the year and throughout the day that it felt more natural. That’s definitely a product of seat time and being in the car every week or the truck every week.

“It’s been a huge, huge help.”

Jones led 94 of the race’s 200 laps while Blaney topped the field for 43 laps.

The race — the 14th in this season’s XFINITY series — was originally set for 9:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, but was washed out as downpours hit Joliet and the entire Chicago area.

Nearly 14 hours later, Sunday’s restart went off a bit after noon (ET) without a hitch under dry conditions and increasingly sunny skies.

Blaney nearly had a storybook finish as he overcame earlier misfortune to lead the race with less than a dozen laps remaining.

Driving the No. 22 Hertz Ford for Team Penske, Blaney wrecked his primary car in Saturday qualifying, started Sunday with a backup car in the back row but quickly maneuvered into the top 10 and moved into the lead with 45 laps to run.

“I thought it was a good day for us, a decent day,” Blaney said. “I felt like I threw it away yesterday wrecking our primary. For our team to get a backup car out and work as hard as they did and have a car contending for the win and to be leading in the last little bit and then just not pull it off, that really speaks volumes to them about how well they prepared.”

The race featured a track record 23 lead changes, plus seven cautions for 39 laps.

Series points leader Chris Buescher finished fifth and maintained his series lead with 528 points, 29 points ahead of second place Ty Dillon.

He shook off a penalty for speeding on pit road and rallied to the top five.

“It’s a good points day, that’s how it ended up,” Buescher said. “The pit road speeding penalty is on me. … I got us a little bit behind there and put us in a bad spot but the guys did a good job coming back.”

He regained track position when 22 drivers were penalized for pitting too soon with 46 laps remaining.

Chase Elliott, who won last summer’s XFINITY Chicagoland race on the way to the 2014 series championship, spun out with 23 laps to go and finished 14th. He’s still looking for his first win of the season.

Ross Kenseth, driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, was sixth in his XFINITY Series debut, a nice rebound after a Friday spinout during practice in his first time running the track.

“In the last two days we were a lot better than my first day here,” said Kenseth, son of 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth. “At the end I thought we were really good — a third, fourth-place car — (but) was a little disappointed we didn’t get into the top five. … But the guys worked so hard at it and gave me a great car this weekend.”

The XFINITY series takes a break this week and resumes with a July 4 race at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Owens Corning AttiCat 300

Chicagoland Speedway

Joliet, Illinois

Sunday, June 21, 2015

1. (11) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 200, $97576.

2. (24) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 200, $66966.

3. (1) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 200, $51456.

4. (5) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 200, $41298.

5. (9) Chris Buescher, Ford, 200, $37841.

6. (2) Ross Kenseth, Toyota, 200, $35523.

7. (7) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 200, $32698.

8. (13) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 200, $30622.

9. (8) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 200, $29492.

10. (10) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 200, $29760.

11. (3) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 200, $29254.

12. (14) Ryan Reed, Ford, 200, $27699.

13. (4) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 200, $27918.

14. (6) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 200, $27639.

15. (16) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 200, $26786.

16. (19) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 200, $26159.

17. (15) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 200, $26033.

18. (25) Ross Chastain #, Chevrolet, 200, $26107.

19. (18) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 200, $25780.

20. (23) Cale Conley #, Toyota, 200, $26154.

21. (17) Ben Rhodes, Chevrolet, 200, $25527.

22. (20) Blake Koch, Toyota, 200, $25371.

23. (27) TJ Bell, Toyota, 200, $25220.

24. (26) David Starr, Toyota, 200, $25068.

25. (21) Harrison Rhodes #, Chevrolet, 200, $25077.

26. (28) Eric McClure, Toyota, 200, $24791.

27. (30) Peyton Sellers #, Chevrolet, 200, $18639.

28. (12) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 197, $24462.

29. (34) Jimmy Weller, Chevrolet, 197, $18336.

30. (33) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, 192, $24485.

31. (32) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 192, $24054.

32. (36) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Ignition, 165, $17917.

33. (35) Josh Reaume #, Toyota, 146, $17801.

34. (22) Dylan Lupton, Chevrolet, Accident, 145, $23690.

35. (31) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 134, $17567.

36. (38) Bobby Gerhart, Chevrolet, Engine, 69, $21842.

37. (37) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Handling, 44, $14842.

38. (39) John Jackson, Dodge, Vibration, 34, $13842.

39. (40) Matt Frahm, Chevrolet, Clutch, 5, $12842.

40. (29) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 2, $11842.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  118.812 mph.

Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 31 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.958 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 39 laps.

Lead Changes:  23 among 11 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Dillon(i) 0; R. Kenseth 1; A. Dillon(i) 2-27; J. Clements 28-29; A. Dillon(i) 30; R. Smith 31-38; E. Jones(i) 39-70; R. Blaney 71-73; E. Jones(i) 74-75; C. Elliott 76; D. Suarez # 77; R. Sieg 78-83; R. Blaney 84-85; E. Jones(i) 86-99; A. Dillon(i) 100; B. Gaughan 101-102; R. Smith 103-112; E. Jones(i) 113-130; R. Blaney 131-133; E. Jones(i) 134-150; B. Gaughan 151-152; D. Starr 153-154; R. Blaney 155-189; E. Jones(i) 190-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  E. Jones(i) 6 times for 94 laps; R. Blaney 4 times for 43 laps; A. Dillon(i) 3 times for 28 laps; R. Smith 2 times for 18 laps; R. Sieg 1 time for 6 laps; B. Gaughan 2 times for 4 laps; D. Starr 1 time for 2 laps; J. Clements 1 time for 2 laps; D. Suarez # 1 time for 1 lap; R. Kenseth 1 time for 1 lap; C. Elliott 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: C. Buescher – 528; T. Dillon – 499; C. Elliott – 485; R. Smith – 466; D. Wallace Jr. # – 462; E. Sadler – 447; B. Scott – 430; B. Gaughan – 419; R. Reed – 410; D. Suarez # – 407.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.