BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Two weeks ago in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Alex Tagliani got turned out of the lead by Regan Smith and lost his shot at a win.
Today in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Tagliani had a chance to be the one doing the turning.
Heading into Turn 5B on the final lap, Tagliani says he was in a position to push Erik Jones aside and claim victory for himself. But he didn’t. Instead, Tagliani held back as Jones cruised to his second win of the season and vaulted to the top of the NCWTS point standings.
“If I would have stayed where I was he would have been gone in (Turn) 5B,” Tagliani said. “I don’t drive that way. I just want to continue the trend.”
Tagliani thought he would have time to take one more clean shot at Jones through the final series of turns, but a broken third gear took that chance away.
“It shredded completely,” he said. “It was pretty much good all race. I felt a couple of times it was kind of scratchy on the downshift, but no sign it was going to be bad. As soon as I put third gear on the back straight, it just went.
“I put it in fourth and it just kind of limped all the way back home.”
The 19-year-old Jones felt the pressure from veteran road course racer Tagliani down the stretch, but maintained his concentration to become the first driver to lead the entire last lap of a NCWTS race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“It was a blast,” Jones said of the race. “It was nerve-wracking. It’s a little intense when you’ve got a guy like that running you down for 15 laps.”
It turned out that Jones and Tagliani had shared a parade truck before the race and had a philosophical discussion about racing with respect. Tagliani told Jones he knew he was in a heated points battle and that Jones didn’t have to worry about him trying the same thing Smith had done to him at Mid-Ohio.
“We had a pretty long talk about racing people the way you want to be raced,” Jones said. “I’ve never been one to want to move somebody to win a race, and he hasn’t, either. It’s nice to see that respect, especially from a veteran like that to me.
“It’s not something he had to do. It means a lot to me that he did.”
Jones worked hard to improve his road course craft coming into this weekend. Time spent at a pair of driving schools paid off, as did a strong effort by the team to improve their truck.
“We had a good truck last year, and we were able to do some improving on our Tundra to get it to where it needed to be for this year,” Jones said. “I was able to improve on myself and fix some of my mistakes this year as well and get a little bit better.”
Matt Crafton finished in second place, which keeps him second in the point standings behind Jones, who now holds a three-point advantage. Tyler Reddick, the standings leader entering the race, placed 19th and is now third (15 points behind Jones) in the championship hunt.
Ben Kennedy, Daniel Hemric, and Tagliani rounded out the top five.
Cole Custer mounted one of the strongest challenges to Jones in the late going, but contact between he and Tagliani took him out of the running with 11 laps to go. He ended up in 10th.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – Chevrolet Silverado 250
1. (2) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 64, $64245.
2. (3) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 64, $48243.
3. (6) Ben Kennedy, Toyota, 64, $35572.
4. (13) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 64, $27034.
5. (1) Alex Tagliani(i), Ford, 64, $26832.
6. (9) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 64, $21752.
7. (7) Cameron Hayley #, Toyota, 64, $21202.
8. (14) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, 64, $20651.
9. (12) John H. Nemechek #, Chevrolet, 64, $19661.
10. (5) Cole Custer, Chevrolet, 64, $20500.
11. (8) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 64, $19441.
12. (19) Brian Wong, Toyota, 64, $16997.
13. (18) TJ Bell(i), Chevrolet, 64, $19137.
14. (17) Mason Mingus, Chevrolet, 64, $19027.
15. (22) Ray Black Jr. #, Chevrolet, 64, $19406.
16. (23) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 64, $18697.
17. (16) Tyler Young, Chevrolet, 64, $18586.
18. (24) Korbin Forrister #, Chevrolet, 64, $18476.
19. (4) Tyler Reddick, Ford, 62, $18367.
20. (29) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 61, $17506.
21. (28) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 59, $16896.
22. (10) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 57, $15787.
23. (15) Matt Tifft, Toyota, 56, $15566.
24. (27) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 55, $15455.
25. (20) John Wes Townley, Chevrolet, 54, $15551.
26. (11) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, Accident, 43, $15346.
27. (21) Daniel Brown, Chevrolet, 42, $15291.
28. (25) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, Brakes, 21, $15013.
29. (26) Justin Jennings, Chevrolet, Brakes, 12, $14958.
30. (31) Josh Reaume(i), RAM, Engine, 10, $14458.
31. (30) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, Engine, 0, $12958.
Stephanie Wallcraft – NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images