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Denny Hamlin Wins XFINITY Race at New Hampshire!

TRACK: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon
DRIVER: Denny Hamlin
CAR: No. 20 SunEnergy1 Toyota Camry
START: 1st
LAPS: Completed 200 of 200 laps

Post-Race Highlights:

  • Denny Hamlin returned to the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) on Saturday afternoon for the Lakes Region 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In his last run with Mike Wheeler and the No. 20 SunEnergy1 team, Hamlin salvaged a top-10 finish after battling several obstacles throughout the race. This time around, however, Hamlin dominated, leading 145 of the 200-lap event on his way to scoring his second XFINITY Series win this season with the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team and the first-career victory for SunEnergy1.
  • As soon as the tires hit the track, there was no denying that Hamlin and the No. 20 team had a dominating SunEnergy1 Toyota Camry. After sweeping all three qualifying rounds, Hamlin claimed his second pole of the 2015 NXS season.
  • Shortly after the green flag waved at the Magic Mile, the first caution arose just 25 laps into the event. Hamlin and JGR teammate Kyle Busch were on the front row for the restart, and as the field went green, both drivers got sideways. “I just got impatient on the restart,” Hamlin said, “My bad.” Both cars went to the rear of the field and suffered no serious damage. Just eight laps later, Hamlin gained 18 spots and was back into the top 10.
  • The SunEnergy1 Toyota Camry regained the lead on lap 44 and remained out front until the final restart on lap 174. Side-by-side, Hamlin and Austin Dillon battled for position around the corners until Dillon stole the lead. Hamlin wasn’t ready to settle for second, however, and just five laps later, took the lead back from Dillon. The SunEnergy1 Toyota Camry led the final 22 laps before taking the checkered flag and heading to Victory Lane. Hamlin’s win at New Hampshire makes three wins this season for crew chief Mike Wheeler and the No. 20 JGR team.

Denny Hamlin on his Win at New Hampshire:

“We had a dominant car today. Wheels [Mike Wheeler, crew chief] and the Joe Gibbs team assembled a great race team and it’s just an honor to drive for these guys. I wanted to get a win for them and everyone at SunEnergy1, Kenny Habul and those guys. You drive extra hard when you have your buddy on the hood.”

Kyle Busch Wins Kentucky!

It was dominating night for Joe Gibbs Racing at Kentucky Speedway with an impressive victory by Kyle Busch and all four teams finishing in the top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400.

Busch led a race-high four times for 163 total laps en route to the win, while teammates Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth finished third, fourth, and fifth respectively. The win is Busch’s second since returning from his early season injury and moves him to 35th in the standings and 87 points out of 30th-place which would secure his place in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota from the ninth position but was fast from the outset as he raced his way into the top five and a great two-tire stop on his first trip to pit road helped put him out first on lap 33. He would fall to second just prior to the night’s next caution and once again the M&M’s pit crew delivered putting Busch out first once again for a restart on lap 87. He would settle into second once again before another caution on lap 100. This time the 18 team made the call to remain out on the track and once again he raced second following the restart. Another great two-tire stop on lap 124 put him back at the point for a restart on lap 129. He would continue to hold the top spot through a couple of quick cautions. Busch would continue to hold the lead with 100 laps to go. He would line up second alongside his teammate Hamlin for a restart with 55 to go. After a couple of quick restarts he would run third with 40 to go, but managed to pass his teammate to take over second and then slowly reeled in the 22 car making the pass with 20 laps remaining. Busch never looked back after that as he stretched out his lead to the finish line.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota from the eighth position and proved quick from the drop of the green flag as he raced his way into the top five. He was running fourth when he felt his right front tire going flat and was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 73. Hamlin was correct as the team confirmed his right front tire was starting to come apart. Unfortunately NASCAR ruled he was speeding when he came onto pit road causing him to serve a pass through penalty. The sequence would avoid certain disaster had the tire blown, but Hamlin would be two laps down. The FedEx team would take the wave around on the next caution to get one of those laps back and he restarted 39th and still one lap down on lap 87. Hamlin quickly moved into the top 30 seeking the lucky dog position for being the first car one lap down. He would gain that spot on lap 115 and the caution would come on lap 122 allowing him to get back on the lead lap. Hamlin would move his FedEx Camry back inside the top 20 by lap 133 and was 17th when a caution came out at the halfway point of the race. He would restart 18th on lap 140. Hamlin worked his way back into the top 10 and was running back inside the top five with 100 laps to go. The FedEx pit crew delivered all night and put Hamlin out first for a restart on lap 212. He would lead twice for a total of 13 laps on the night despite the early race setback. A couple quick cautions created hectic restarts and Hamlin was running third with 40 to go. He would hold that spot to the finish.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 Minions Toyota 20th and worked his way toward the top ten on the opening couple of green flag runs. Crew chief Darian Grubb would make the call for a four-tire stop on the opening round of stops and that would put Carl back outside the top 15 once again as many other leaders made the call for just two-tires. Edwards was able to utilize the four tires to his advantage on the track however as he drove his way back into the top ten. He would restart sixth on lap 87. He would continue to hold that spot on lap 115. Edwards’ “Minions” on pit road would turn a great two-tire stop allowing the 19 to restart fourth on lap 129. He would take third on lap 133 and was in second when another caution came out on lap 144. He would line up third behind his teammates Hamlin and Busch for a restart with 55 laps to go. Edwards ran fourth with 40 laps to go following a couple of hectic restarts and was able to hold that spot to the finish.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 16th position and was able to make his way into the top ten prior to the first round of pit stops. He would run fifth on lap 80 and came to pit road on lap 83 for four tires. He would restart fifth on lap 87 and hold that spot through the next caution on lap 100. The Dollar General Camry would run seventh on lap 115. The team would make the call for four tires during a round of stops on lap 124 and he would restart 13th on lap 129. He then restarted 10th on lap 140. Kenseth would choose to pit for four tires on lap 153 while the majority of leaders made the call to remain out on the track. That would leave Kenseth back in 15th for the ensuing restart but he was back inside the top 10 by lap 167. He would line up fifth for a restart with 55 to go. He continued to run fifth behind all three teammates and the 22 car with 40 to go. Kenseth would go on to finish the night in that fifth position.

Kyle Busch captured the win and was followed by Joey Logano, Hamlin, Edwards and Kenseth rounded out the top five. There were 11 cautions on the night for a total of 49 laps and 13 lead changes among eight different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Sunday, July 19. NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will provide live coverage starting at 1 PM ET (race scheduled to start at 1:30 PM ET).

Race Report: Daytona

Rain delayed the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 for 3 ½ hours, but the green flag for the start of the race managed to drop at Daytona International Speedway a little before midnight creating an exciting late-night battle on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

When it finally ended in thrilling fashion just before 3 AM ET it was Denny Hamlin leading Joe Gibbs Racing with a third-place finish despite being turned from behind and setting off a massive wreck at the finish line. Both Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth would be collected in the wreck after recovering from earlier incidents and finished 17th and 23rd respectively. Meanwhile Carl Edwards was collected in an earlier accident and had his night ended early to finish 41st.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota from the 35th position and was up to 22nd when the first caution of the night came out for a wreck on lap 4. He would connect with his teammate Matt Kenseth to run in the top five prior to a competition on lap 27. The two would work together well on the ensuing green flag run to remain in the top five. Hamlin would take his first lead of the night on lap 55 and then returned to run point on lap 94. He would continue to run at the front of the field all night and restarted third for a green-white-checker finish. Hamlin positioned himself behind the leader on the final lap but the 88 managed to block him to the finish line. As the field approached the finish line the 4 car hit Hamlin from behind setting off a massive chain reaction that collected nearly every car in the top 30. Fortunately everyone appeared okay and Hamlin would be scored in third.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota from the 13th position and was content running toward the middle of the pack through the opening laps of the race. He was running near the top 10 while racing the high line when his No. 18 Camry got loose and hit hard into the outside wall. Unfortunately for Busch and the Interstate Batteries team a caution was not called and he would have to drive to pit road for repairs under the green flag. He would go two laps down while the team made the necessary repairs prior to a competition caution on lap 27. With no cars a lap down and as the only car two laps off the pace Busch would get one of his laps back courtesy the lucky dog when that competition caution was displayed. He would get another lucky dog designation when another caution came out on lap 54 and that would put him on the lead lap. Crew chief Adam Stevens and Interstate Batteries crew would continue to make repairs on his car at every opportunity while managing to maintain his position on the lead lap. Incredibly after 12 trips down pit road on the night the 18 team would manage to work their way back into the main pack to race to the finish. Busch would finish 17th despite being collected in the massive wreck at the finish. He is currently 37th in the point standings, 128 points out of 30th.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 DEWALT Made in the USA Toyota in the 19th and would connect with teammate Denny Hamlin just prior to a lap 27 competition caution to make a run to the top five. The two would continue to work together on the next green flag run to remain in the top five. Kenseth would lead his first lap on lap 79 as he moved into the high line and carried the momentum to the front. He would make a four-tire change on the next stop under caution giving up some of his track position, but he was quickly back into the top five by lap 100. Unfortunately Kenseth would be involved in the race’s next “big one.” The 5 car would take the air off his left rear bumper and although the two cars never made contact, the air was enough to cause the 20 to spin. He would go a lap down while the DEWALT crew made the necessary repairs, but Kenseth earned the lucky dog to get back on the lead lap following a caution with 30 laps remaining. He was back in the top 20 with 20 laps to go. He would race in the main pack to the finish but like nearly everyone in the top 30 he was collected in the final wreck. Kenseth would finish 23rd.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 Subway Toyota 24th but as often the case with superspeedway racing track position can change rapidly and he was seventh when a caution came out early for the night’s first wreck on lap 4. He would race in the top 10 over the next two green flag runs. He was running 13th on lap 54 when he would get loose while running in the middle of the pack and spin down the track. Edwards nearly managed to keep his Subway Camry off the wall, but the rear of his car would hit the inside wall causing damage that required repairs on pit road. He would fall a lap down but a quick caution following the ensuing restart would give him his lap right back courtesy of the lucky dog designation. Edwards was racing patiently in the middle of the pack when the 42 got loose on lap 86 and spun up the track and into the Subway Camry. That set off a chain of events that pushed Edwards into the outside wall and then his No. 19 Toyota was hit from behind and lifted off the ground momentarily. The damage would be too severe to continue and his night was over early. He would be scored in 41st.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. captured the win and was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions on the night for a total of 43 laps and 22 lead changes among 12 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Kentucky Speedway next Saturday night. NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will provide live coverage starting at 7 PM ET (race scheduled to start at 7:45 PM ET).

Kyle Busch Wins Sonoma!

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Kyle Busch continued his incredible comeback from an early season injury with an impressive victory in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. The win is crucial to Busch’s hopes of qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Championship. He now has the necessary victory and will be seeking a spot in the top-30 over the final 10 races leading up to the Chase field being set. He is currently 37th in the standings and 136 points out of first.

Meanwhile teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth finished 18th and 21st respectively, while an accident left Carl Edwards back in 40th.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota from the 11th position and was able to work his way to the front for his first lead of the day on lap 28. He would lead the next 12 laps. He would eventually relinquish the lead but the 18 team would continue to run inside the top five for much of the afternoon. Busch would run third with 25 laps to go and move into second with 22 laps remaining. The 15 car would get around the M&Ms Crispy Camry with 16 laps remaining to drop the 18 back to third once again. A caution with 12 laps remaining would create a strategic decision for every team on the lead lap. Crew chief Adam Stevens would make the call for a four-tire pit stop and Busch lined up seventh for the restart with seven laps to go. He would jump to fourth on the opening lap of the restart and was second with six to go with only the 48 to catch. Busch would do that with five laps remaining and then held off his brother in the 41 car as well as Clint Bowyer in the 15 to earn the win.

Denny Hamlin, started 15th and had to make an unscheduled pit stop early on lap 17 for a suspected tire issue on his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota. That would put him towards the back of the field and he would run 39th for a restart on lap 33 following a red flag caution. Hamlin was hoping to make a comeback after that setback and raced his way back inside the top 30 by lap 40. With different pit strategies playing out on the track the No. 11 FedEx Camry would try to gain crucial track position but with 25 laps left he was back in 26th once again. He was 21st when a caution came out with 12 laps remaining. He would come to pit road for fresh tires and restarted 22nd with seven laps to go. He would finish 18th.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the third position and would drop back to run seventh after the opening 15 laps of this afternoon’s race. A problem with his left rear tire would send him back down pit road for an unscheduled stop on lap 44 dropping Kenseth a lap down in 41st position. The Dollar General team would continue to battle and Kenseth would work his way back to the lead lap and was racing back inside the top 30 by lap 85. He was running 26th when a caution came out with 12 laps left. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call for Kenseth to remain out on the track instead of pitting and that allowed him to line up fifth for the restart with seven laps to go. He would get contact on the restart causing him to fall back out of the top ten and without fresh tires he drop back to finish 21st.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota 14th and was able to drive his way toward the top ten through the early going. With several pit strategies at play the 19 car’s track position would change several times throughout the course of the afternoon, but he was seventh on a restart with 31 laps remaining. Unfortunately trouble would hit Edwards as he raced on the inside of the 55 car during the restart when the two came together while trying to navigate the esses on the road course. The two cars slid off the track together and hit hard into a concrete barrier. The damage sent Edwards to the garage and his day was over. He would finish 40th.

Kyle Busch captured the win and was followed by Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano rounded out the top five. There were five cautions on the afternoon for a total of 21 laps and nine lead changes among five different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to Daytona International Speedway next Sunday, July 5. It will be the first race for NBC Sports, which will handle the broadcast duties for the remainder of the 2015 NASCAR season. The Coke Zero 400 will begin Sunday, July 5 with pre-race coverage on NBC starting at 7 PM ET.

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Race Report: Chicagoland XFINITY Series

Daniel Suarez

Rain pushed Saturday night’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series event to Sunday morning, but not even Mother Nature could keep Daniel Suárez from recording his fifth top-10 finish of the 2015 season. The 23-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing rookie drove his No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry to a career-best finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, on an afternoon that saw him battle back from a near collision on pit road and lead the field for one lap.

Looking to bounce back from disappointing finishes his last two races – 19th at Dover International Speedway and 20th at Michigan International Speedway – Suárez began Sunday’s event from the seventh spot on the starting grid after another strong showing in Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday. As soon as the green flag flew to start the event, the Monterrey, Mexico, driver was hard at work trying to improve his position. Through the first 25 laps, Suárez tried driving the same racing lines as the fastest cars on the track, but informed his team that his Camry felt too loose to run up top.

Crew Chief Eric Phillips decided to make some adjustments to the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota when it came down pit road during the competition caution on Lap 25 for Sunoco fuel and four Goodyear tires, giving his young driver a tighter machine for the Lap 31 restart. The adjustments paid off quickly for Suárez as he moved up from the 10th spot on the restart to eighth within one lap. As the green-flag laps piled up, Suárez continued his assault on the race leaders. He made his way to the sixth spot by Lap 73, and on Lap 77, as the leaders began to pit under green-flag conditions, the young driver found himself in the top spot for his first lap led in his last three starts.

Suárez faced his first challenge of the afternoon on Lap 78. As he brought his Camry down pit road under green, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next program alum had to slam on the breaks in order to avoid a collision on pit road. The delay dropped Suárez to the 19th spot after the pit stop for fresh tires and fuel. After a caution on Lap 96, the rookie brought his No. 18 ARRIS Toyota back down pit road on Lap 100 for another adjustment, a fresh set of Goodyear tires and Sunoco fuel.

With 97 laps remaining after the Lap 103 restart, veteran spotter Chris Osborne told Suárez it was time to begin making his move and the driver wasted no time in getting to work. He moved up to the 12th spot by Lap 105. By Lap 110, Suárez was back in the top 10 and looking to keeping advancing. He was in the sixth spot when he brought his Camry down pit road on Lap 150 for what would turn out to be the final pit stop of the afternoon. After stopping for fresh tires and fuel, Suárez and the rest of the leaders were penalized for pitting while pit road was closed. That, however, did not stop the rookie from his quest to record a good result in the event. He battled back from the setback, running as high as sixth with 10 laps remaining, before ultimately settling for a sixth-place finish, his fifth top five of the season.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones won the Owens Corning AttiCat 300, his second NASCAR XFINITY Series checkered flag of the season. It was also the eighth top-10 series finish for the 19-year-old and came less than 48 hours after he won the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. Ryan Blaney crossed the finish line 1.958 seconds behind Jones for his third top five in five starts this year. Austin Dillon finished third, followed by Brendan Gaughan and series’ points leader Chris Buescher. The event was slowed by seven cautions for 39 laps and saw 23 lead changes among 11 drivers.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series will have a week off before returning to action on July 4 for the Subway Firecracker 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway. Suárez and the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing team will look for the sixth top-10 finish of the season when the series visits the 2.5-mile superspeedway for the second time this year. Coverage begins at 7:30 pm ET on NBC Sports Network.

Daniel Suárez’s Post-Race Thoughts:
How was your race?

“It was a hard-fought top-10 finish in today’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race. We had some trouble on pit road where there was almost a collision, but we were able to avoid it and fought hard to score a seventh-place result. Overall, it was an OK weekend. We didn’t have the result we wanted on Saturday in the ARCA Series event, but on Sunday we worked really hard during the race to get better and better as the race went on. We were very competitive today and spent most of the event in the top 10. We learned a lot today and we just have to take that to our next race in two weeks and keep working on being consistent and getting better. I can’t thank my crew, ARRIS, Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing enough for all the effort and support.”

Ross Kenseth

It was a special Father’s Day weekend for Matt Kenseth as his 22-year old son Ross Kenseth made his NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) debut at Chicagoland Speedway in the same No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry that his dad is known for. After two solid practice sessions, Ross scored the yellow and black Camry a front-row starting position for the Owens Corning AttiCat 300.

Shortly after the green flag waved, Ross told crew chief Mike Wheeler [Wheels] that his Camry was tight on throttle. NASCAR’s competition caution took place on lap 25 and Ross brought the Dollar General Camry down pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. On lap 76, the JGR crew made a green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment to give Ross more front grip through the corners. Shortly after rejoining the field, the yellow flag waved and the No. 20 car went a lap down. Fortunately, the lead-lap cars made their way to pit road, placing Ross in the 13th position after taking the wave around.

As another caution arose with 51 laps to go, the No. 20 Dollar General Camry was one of the fastest cars on the track. Wheels called Ross to pit road for a quick fuel-only pit stop and his strategy paid off when the No. 20 car rejoined the field as the leader. Soon after, however, chaos ensued as NASCAR ruled that pit road was not officially open, ultimately forcing 20+ cars to the back of the field after pitting too early. Despite the dismay, Ross restarted in 11th position and quickly worked his way back into the top 10.

With less that 25 laps remaining, strategy worked in the No. 20 team’s favor once again. When the caution flag waved, Wheels called Ross to pit road for four brand-new sticker tires, making the No. 20 Dollar General Camry the only car on the track with four fresh tires.

Restarting 15th after the final caution, Ross took advantage of his new tires and worked through the field like a true professional. The young rookie managed to gain nine spots in the final portion of the race, crossing the finish line in 6th position.

Ross Kenseth’s Post-Race Thoughts:
“This entire experience was great. I wanted that top-five finish so bad at the end, but sixth place is something we can all be proud of. Wheels, Chirs (Osborne, spotter) and the entire No. 20 team did a fantastic job all weekend. We battled a tight-handling Toyota Camry throughout the day, but Wheels made some positive adjustments and his strategy played out well at the end. I can’t thank everyone at Dollar General enough for this opportunity. To come out here on a one-off deal and get the results we did speaks wonders about our team. I hope we made everyone proud and I hope we get to do it again in the future.”

Erik Jones

NASCAR’s XFINITY Series entered week fourteen of the 2015 season at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday for the Owens Corning Atticat 300 race event. After celebrating Tuesday with his first ARCA Series win at Berlin Raceway in Michigan, Jones went to to win his first 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win on Friday night in Iowa then traveled to Joliet, Illinois to qualify and race with the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Although heavy rain postponed the event until Sunday morning, and with limited track time from only a few qualifying laps, Jones took charge of his destiny and from an 11th-place starting spot he turned today’s Chicagoland race start into his second-career XFINITY Series win – accomplishing a SWEEP of sorts winning three of three motorsports events entered consecutively in one race week.

Two drivers drove the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry this weekend, contributing to the team’s win. While Erik Jones was in Iowa competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Friday, fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Drew Herring practiced the Monster Energy Toyota in two Friday sessions. Ranked as high as third-quick on the speed chart, Herring and spotter confirmed “we’ve got ourselves one hell of a car.” After Jones completed the Truck Series race Friday night, by capturing his first Truck Series WIN of 2015, he flew to Chicago to debrief with the team about their fast Camry. In Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session on the two-mile oval, Jones quickly assimilated to the No. 54 car but determined a few adjustments would be needed once the race would start. Unfortunately, the race teams never had that opportunity to race Saturday night, as heavy thunderstorms rolled into the ‘windy city’ suburb of Joliet and caused the Chicagoland race to be postponed until Sunday morning.

Sunday’s start was only Jones’ 16th career XFINITY Series race over two seasons and his second attempt at Chicagoland Speedway where he achieved his first series start here one year ago. To date, as a part-time XFINITY series driver in 2015 Jones has now earned two wins, seven top-five finishes, eight top-10 finishes, three poles and 254 laps led. Jones currently averages a 4.5 start and 9.8 finish. While he runs a partial XFINITY Series schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones also competes full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with team owner Kyle Busch and the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota team. During Friday night’s Iowa Speedway NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race action Jones earned his first season victory of the year in that series, one he has targeted to win the annual driver’s points championship in.

Finally able to hit the track Sunday morning, with clear skies overhead, everyone on the No. 54 team was excited for the race with Jones after coming off the Joe Gibbs Racing team’s first victory of the XFINITY Series season at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, one week before. While the Michigan victory came at the hand of veteran Monster Energy driver Kyle Busch, the team looked forward to and was confidant the young driver Busch had been mentoring, Jones, could achieve the same goal. At green-flag drop, Jones proved what many had seen, quickly making his way from 11th place at race start to second place by lap 24 when the field saw it’s first caution flag.

A visit to pit road included a small adjustment to the No. 54 Camry and service for fresh Goodyear tires and Sunoco Racing fuel. While Jones parked long in his pit box, there was difficulty maneuvering his pit road exit and Jones dropped to fifth place for race restart but didn’t stay there long. Jones reached the race lead at lap 39, what would ultimately contribute to his 3M Lap Leader Award at race end when he accomplished a race-high 94 laps led. Across five total pit road visits during the race, the team only made small adjustments back and forth, to maintain a good balance for Jones. At one point spotter Al Dirusso confirmed over the radio, “the only place they are making any ground on you Erik is the bottom of turn 3, everywhere else you are the best.” Jones would later reiterate, “my entry into turns 1-2 are so good right now, I have a lot of security in the car.”

The race didn’t come without hurdles, however, for the 19-year old XFINITY Series rookie. The most controversial moment occurred past the race halfway mark, when a yellow-flag caution waved and Jones, among most other competitors, brought his No. 54 Camry down pit road for service. NASCAR penalized the No. 54 team for visiting pit road when it wasn’t actually open, although there was a lot of ‘discussion’ by several teams to the contrary. Although the spotter heard from NASCAR “pit road open,” in the end NASCAR confirmed the red flag had not exhibited. So in fact 19 teams had incurred the penalty and would be placed further back in the field. While Jones was re-positioned into 9th place from the race lead, the setback didn’t deter him from working back towards the front. There were several on-track battles with fellow competitor Ryan Blaney in the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford. The No. 22 and No. 54 swapped lead positions several times through the race, including one pivotal swap at the end of the race, when Jones maneuvered past Blaney in the final eight laps of competition, allowing Jones to catch the checkered flag, a 1.98 second margin of victory.

Sunday’s XFINITY Series event recorded an average speed of 118.812mph and saw 23 lead changes across 11 drivers. There were seven caution periods over 39 laps of the 300-mile event.

With Sunday’s top-10 result the No. 54 Monster Energy team moves up to 8th-place in NASCAR’s Owner Championship Points Standings, now 88 markers behind the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford.

Next week the NASCAR XFINITY Series takes a hiatus then resumes competition on Saturday, July 4 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway which will be broadcast on NBC Sports at 7:30pm EST.

Erik’s Post-Race Thoughts:
“It’s pretty awesome to get this Monster Energy Toyota back to victory lane. It’s two weeks in a row for these guys. That’s three wins this week for me – that’s pretty awesome. It was a rough go for awhile, but we came back at it now. It’s just cool to be back here – thanks to Kyle Busch Motorsports for Friday, Joe Gibbs Racing for today and Port City Race Cars for Tuesday, XFINITY for doing this for us, the fans and – man, what a day, what a day. Thanks to Drew Herring who shook this thing down for us two days ago (in practice) and got it right and we took it to victory lane today. We’ll bask in this and take it in and get ready for the next one. Just an awesome week and I’m pretty proud of everyone involved.”

Chris Gayle (crew chief) Post-Race Thoughts:
“Two back to back victories is really cool, I think I talked last week about how this No. 54 team itself over the last couple of weeks is getting better. It’s assumed the No. 54 car will win with Kyle, and I understand that, Kyle’s great, there’s no comparison of him to most drivers out there. But that’s why I wanted to win one without Kyle to be able to say, guess what, the No. 54 can win with Kyle and without Kyle. It might win more with Kyle than some of the guys but Erik showed you today he can dominate the race and win with the same car.”