Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Erik Jones captures first career victory in a wild race at Daytona

Erik Jones captures first career victory in a wild race at Daytona

For Jones, this probably wasn't how he envisioned his first Cup victory.

The victory was the first Cup win for the 22-year-old Jones, a driver nurtured by Toyota's motorsports program and one of the leading representatives of the young group of drivers expected to gain traction over the next few years.

"How about that race boys and girls?" said Jones, who replaced 2004 series champion Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing this year.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the first two stages of the race. "We needed to win to get in the playoffs, so it is what it is". Shortly thereafter, carnage once again struck, again coming at the hands of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who was running in 3rd at the time, clipped the 18 of Kyle Busch, who clipped William Byron who was leading and they both took a ride.

AJ Allmendinger finished third, followed by Kasey Kahne, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon. "It's discouraging because even if you're fast and you get up there and race, there's a good shot you're still going to get in a wreck". "It's a first win".

In a Coke Zero Sugar 400 that went eight laps beyond its scheduled 160, Jones passed the reigning series champion on the backstretch of the final lap and held on to win by.125 seconds.

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FIRST OVERTIME: Just before the leaders took the white flag, a multicar collision took out another set of contenders and brought out the red flag.

Stenhouse was involved in five crashes and was the root cause of two of them.

Kyle Larson, who won the Xfinity Series race Friday night, was out in a crash with Stenhouse. William Byron, also racing near the front, was involved along with several other drivers. That crash ended their respective nights.

Shortly before the wreck on the initial would-be final lap, Kahne and Kevin Harvick were side-by-side with six laps to go when another wreck caused a significant delay with cars spread around the infield. The wreck occurred on lap 54 after contact between Brad Keselowski and Stenhouse near the front of the pack. I've got to get better at my mirror-driving. Thanks to a push from Chris Buescher, Jones was able to get ahead of Truex Jr. and stretched the advantage to a couple of auto lengths as the field raced through Turns 3 and 4.

"Ricky (Stenhouse) was doing the best he could to give me a good push and had a great run to take the lead, and the auto in front of me just threw a late, bad block, Keselowski said". I thought we were out of it and all of a sudden we were right back in it, take the lead and ran away. "He just told me some pretty cool things, so it was cool hanging out with him because I've always been a great fan of him". The incident caused the second caution. He's ranked 17th in the points, the first driver outside the playoff field at the moment, and he could use a win to make the postseason. Following in the top 10 were Kyle Larson, Byron, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman.

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