By NASCAR Wire Service
Erik Jones checked off an entire laundry list of accomplishments last Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
One, he won the first-ever Heat in a NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash race.
Two, he captured the checkered flag in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300, defeating 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch in the process.
Three, he earned the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus as the highest finisher among NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars who were eligible for the Dash 4 Cash.
And four, he clinched the first automatic NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase berth via his victory.
“I guess I gotta take (crew chief Chris) Gabehart to dinner,” said Jones when asked what he would do with the Dash 4 Cash prize money. “That’s going to be a big bill already. I can tell. After that, I’ll probably put it away. I don’t like to buy too many things.”
The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing driver gets the opportunity to take his crew chief out to dinner for the second straight week after he attempts to visit Victory Lane and earn the Dash 4 Cash bonus again in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
In two starts at the .75-mile track, both made last season, Jones finished fourth and fifth. As he noted after his win at Bristol, his Heat race – scheduled to go 35 laps – will help him improve his car so he can race better.
“We made adjustments (following the Heat race), so I think we definitely learned something,” Jones said. “We learned a little bit about the track widening out to where we were going to be running the Main.”
He added, “I liked (the Heat race). It was something different, something unique and it gave us a chance to work on our stuff before the race, which I thought was pretty helpful.”
Despite owning the only NXS Chase berth at the moment, Jones doesn’t plan on changing his approach.
“I think in a way we’re relaxed more after this,” the NASCAR Next alum said. “Not that we were worried about making the Chase, but it’s definitely nice to have that feeling of comfort for sure. I don’t think we’re going to change much. We’re still going to run for wins every week and I still think we were pretty aggressive weeks prior going for the win in general.”
Gabehart echoed the No. 20 team would not let up.
“This sport’s about winning,” he said. “No one shows up to run second or third. Nothing really changes that, especially with competitors as fierce as Erik and I. But to get the first one behind us for the year and know that we can surely focus on the last seven races and build on this momentum is something that’s going to prove valuable for our race team.”
Image: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images