Erik Jones has a front-row seat for Busch Brothers battle

SPARTA, KENTUCKY - JULY 12: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Craftsman Toyota, stands by his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 12, 2019 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

A quick pit stop for fuel only got Erik Jones the track position he needed late in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway and put him in the third spot for the overtime restart that decided the race.

Jones watched from his driver’s seat as brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch swapped door-slams over the final two laps. As he watched the battle in front of him, Jones tried to find a path to victory.

“Yeah, I had two choices there going into (Turns) 3 and 4 (on the final lap),” Jones said. “I knew they were probably going to slide up, so I was going to try to run to the bottom and make a run on them, but they didn’t slide up enough, and I was tight and couldn’t quite get the run I needed to.

“But the Craftsman Camry was good. It was fast from the start. We just needed some track position. We needed to get up there and finally did and had a shot. We were just a little too tight at the end. But good day, lots of points, which is what we needed. I’d love to be standing there on the frontstretch where (race winner) Kurt (Busch) is, but we’re close, and we’re just going to keep after it and get there soon.”

The good news is that Jones climbed into 16th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, the last Playoff-eligible position. He is now two points to the good over Ryan Newman.

“Well, it’s good that we’re ahead of it now, and we just need to keep it going,” Jones said. “We built ourselves big deficit through some misfortune and bad luck, and we’re digging out of it now, but we’re doing a good job at it and doing the best we can. Getting back on the good side of is a good start. We just need to keep it rolling and hopefully get a win here soon.”

Greg Engle