At 17 years, five months and nine days old, Erik Jones has put his name into the record books. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver is now the youngest race winner in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history after taking the checkered flag tonight at Phoenix International Raceway in the Lucas Oil 150.
Jones was second to Ross Chastain on the final restart of the night with 11 laps remaining, but with nine to go, he got past Chastain down the backstretch into Turn 3 and went on to the win.
“It’s unbelievable,” Jones said to Fox Sports in Victory Lane. “It’s all I’ve wanted, to be a winner in NASCAR. To get this win…It’s hard to put it in words right now. I don’t think it’s even set in yet…We just got a really good run off [Turn] 2 and we were able to get underneath him and run him down on the backstretch and make the pass.”
“We just needed a little bit more turn in the center [of the corner] and that’s what he had to beat us,” Chastain said of his battle with Jones. “I tried taking his line away, I tried to banzai him on that restart – about wrecked – and got the lead, but after a lap of green, I couldn’t hold the bottom like I needed to and he was going so fast.”
As for the Camping World Truck Series’ points leader, Matt Crafton, he had a chance to clinch the championship with one race left to go on the schedule. Ty Dillon kept him from doing that with a fourth-place finish, but Crafton, who finished behind him in fifth, only has to start the season finale next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway to claim the title.
Chastain’s runner-up was his sixth Top-10 finish of the season. Brendan Gaughan finished in third ahead of Richard Childress Racing teammate Dillon.
Two races remain in the 2019 Supercross season and the handwriting is on the wall. Cooper Webb’s magic number is now five; all he needs to do in the final two races is finish fifth or better. Since he has finished worse than that only twice this year – and not since Week 5 in San Diego – it’s a fair assumption that he will keep his momentum alive through the end of the season.
Webb’s competition is not going to let up, however. Last week in Denver, Eli Tomac won his second consecutive race after Webb got off to a slow start. There was a glimmer of hope while Webb was outside the top five on Lap 1, but the points leader meticulously picked off the competition and settled into second. Third in the standings, Marvin Musquin finished third to keep his title hopes alive as well.
But this is Supercross. Anything can happen. Just two weeks ago in the 250 class, Austin Forkner tweaked a knee and failed to start the Feature in Nashville. His one-race cushion evaporated in an instant and his advantage over the field is only three points with two races remaining in that division.
Two weeks ago at Nashville, Tyler Enticknap and Ronnie Stewart crashed hard and will be missing from the New Jersey lineup.
In 250s, it took an injury for the field to catch up to Forkner. He’ll be back in competition this week and forced to answer the question of whether he is in full form after undergoing therapy on his knee for the past three weeks. Since none of the 250 East riders have beaten him on the track, the answer would seem to be a simple one.
But now the competition senses weakness which is likely to be compounded by Forkner’s propensity to struggle in practice and qualification. Chase Sexton and Justin Cooper have been racking up top-fives, but now they need to step up and win. If either rider can do that this week in New Jersey or next week in the East/West Showdown in Vegas, that should allow him to snatch the championship away from 2019’s dominator.