NASCAR: Brandon Jones to run for RCR part-time in 2015 XFINITY Series season

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17-year-old NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Brandon Jones has secured a part-time seat for 2015 with Richard Childress Racing and its No. 33 NASCAR XFINITY Series program.

This year, Jones finished fourth in the K&N East standings on the strength of one win at Iowa Speedway, five Top-5s, and 11 Top-10 finishes.

He has also run select events in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (best finish of fourth at Dover in May) and the ARCA Racing Series, where he won twice at Winchester (Ind.) and Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

“This is a great opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to driving RCR cars with ECR Engines next year,” Jones said in a statement. “They are a multi-championship team in the XFINITY Series and I know I have a lot of work and learning ahead of me. I couldn’t think of a better team to race with than RCR.”

Team owner Richard Childress said in his own thoughts that he had been keeping tabs on Jones’ progress for several years and liked what he saw in him as both a driver and a person.

“Adding him to our developmental program and putting him in our No. 33 Chevrolet is a good move for us and his career,” Childress added. “I look forward to seeing his progression next year and welcome him to the RCR family.”

Like it has done this season with the No. 33, RCR said in the release that Jones would share the car in 2015 with other drivers to be named later. Jones will also continue to run limited Truck Series and ARCA schedules.

In 2014, RCR has called upon Cale Conley (11 starts); two of the their Sprint Cup regulars, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon (one start each); and defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton (one start) to drive the No. 33. Menard won with the car back in June at Michigan International Speedway.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”