Erik Jones takes first career Truck pole — and does it in first time racing on dirt — for MudSummer Classic at Eldora

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Before Wednesday, the only dirt Erik Jones ever raced on was back in the tiny rural town he grew up in, little Byron, Mich., population 561.

And that was typically racing on two feet – as in foot races.

But Jones has taken to racing on dirt – on four wheels – quite nicely, thank you.

Not only was he the fastest driver in Wednesday’s first of two practices, he also earned the pole for that evening’s main event, the MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway with a speed of 90.393 mph, one of only two drivers to exceed 90 mph.

In addition, not only is the MudSummer event the first experience on dirt for the 18-year-old rookie, it also marked his first career pole in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition.

When asked by Fox Sports 1 what would he think the chances would be of his earning his first pole on a dirt track, Jones was frank.

“Pretty low. I had no idea,” Jones said.

Things didn’t go so well on his first of two qualifying laps: he and his Toyota Tundra went for a 180-degree spin.

He quickly recovered, came back around and got it right on his second run around the half-mile track in western Ohio in his Kyle Busch Motorsports truck.

“We spun out on the first lap and then came back and made another lap and it was good enough for the pole,” Jones said. “We were pushing hard for that one lap, the track was good early, so we took the most that we could out of our Toyota Tundra and it worked.”

There will be five 10-lap heat races, followed by a “last chance” heat, and then the 150-lap main event (split into 60, 50 and 40 lap segments) will take the green flag tonight around 9 pm ET.

Jones is looking for his second straight NCWTS win. He won in the last race on the schedule nearly two weeks ago at Iowa Speedway.

As for the rest of Wednesday’s qualifying, 34 drivers took to the track.

Mason Mingus, who was second-fastest in both the first and second practice sessions earlier in the day, was also second-fastest in qualifying, the only other driver to exceed 90 mph (at 90.312 mph).

Ron Hornaday Jr. (89.888 mph) was third-fastest, followed by NWCTS points leader Matt Crafton (89.557), Ken Schrader (89.508), Darrell Wallace Jr. (89.423), Jeb Burton (89.410), Chase Pistone (89.308), Timothy Peters (89.052) and Bryan Silas rounded out the top 10 at 89.030 mph.

Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson was 11th-fastest (88.766 mph), followed by John Wes Townley (88.744), Tyler Reddick (88.951, Ryan Blaney (88.426) and Tyler Young (89.274).

Last year’s MudSummer Classic winner, Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon, qualified 19th (86.613 mph), while brother Ty was 24th-fastest (86.990).

The slowest driver of record was 31st-fastest Michael Affarano (81.389 mph). Jennifer Jo Cobb made two runs but they were not scored. Two other drivers failed to take qualifying runs: T.J. Bell and Jared Landers.

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MRTI: Telitz gets creative to help racing career

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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To say that Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz has endured a difficult start to the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season would be an understatement. The Wisconsin native only completed four corners through the first three races – Races 1 and 2 at St. Petersburg, and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park – with St. Pete being especially problematic.

He took the pole for Race 1, but a crash during qualifying for Race 2 prevented him from actually starting. What’s more, the damage was so severe that the Belardi team needed a brand new chassis, with Telitz’s Dallara IL-15 damaged beyond repair.

They also had to borrow a car from Carlin for Race 2, but Telitz’s race ended after he got tangled up with Victor Franzoni in Turn 2 on Lap 1.

With the damage bill well into the six figures as a result, Telitz has taken to some unique, or rather, creative ways to raise money in the aftermath to help cover the costs. “Creative,” in this case, meaning Telitz is using his art skills.

An artist in his spare time, Telitz has begun selling his own original paintings to help raise money.

 “I’ve been to a lot of art shows and I see stuff and I go, ‘Holy cow, someone’s going to pay a thousand dollars for that thing?’” Telitz quipped in a story posted on the Milwaukee Journal.

In discussing his artistic abilities, Telitz added, “I’m working at getting better. I’d like to be able to paint some animals, those types of things. I got a request from Alexander Rossi to see if I could paint his dog. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet.”

Further, in a partnership with The Styled Garage, Telitz is selling his own merchandise, and accepting donations, to help his cause.

Telitz finished fourth in Race 2 at Barber on Sunday, and sits seventh in the Indy Lights championship, 59 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

Follow@KyleMLavigne