By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas — Brandon Jones turned mid-race misfortunes into a stout sixth-place finish in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing started 14th and managed to find the front briefly to lead four laps. However, his race appeared to come undone towards the halfway mark. He brought out the caution on Lap 97 restart, and then was also in an accident while running in solidly in the top 10 with teammate Ryan Preece on Lap 139 of 200.
Despite being pushed down the running order, Jones managed to keep it clean the rest of the race and score his 15th top 10 of the season.
“We never changed anything from practice to the race on this Interstate Batteries Camry and I feel like we had a totally different race car,” Jones said.
“I know the temperatures were a little different and we had some more wind today too so a couple different factors today for sure. Wish we could have got a little bit more, but we made the call that we had to with the couple spins that we had.
“We were also limited on our tires at the end and everyone was really limited on fuel there until that last caution. I was kind of hoping it would keep going and we could run it out until everyone would run out of fuel and hopefully we gain some spots that way.
“Not a bad day to end on and looking forward to the last two that we have.”
With the 1.5-mile oval still with a relatively new track surface at almost two years old, the lack of grip from tire wear is still present and puts a premium on track position. To his credit, Jones is starting to get a feel for it.
“It was and I feel like every time we come back, this track is starting to get some wear on it,” Jones said.
“I can definitely tell that there’s some new patches in (Turns) 3 and 4 that’s kind of affecting the car more and more when we come back. I think it’s going to continue to move around a little bit, but it’s just a bottom groove race track.”