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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