Jones ready to win, lock up Chase berth in valley of the sun

By NASCAR Wire Service

Following a tough-luck 31st-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona, 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Erik Jones is beginning to hit his stride in his first full-time NASCAR XFINITY Series season.

The 20-year-old NASCAR Next alum has produced a third-place finish in each of the last two races, jumping from 22nd in the points standings to seventh, 20 notches behind leader Daniel Suárez.

Jones will attempt to continue his ascent up the standings and try to capture the first berth in the 12-driver, four-round NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase in Saturday’s Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter 200 at Phoenix International Raceway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

“This week is definitely a race I circled on the calendar. Phoenix is one of my favorite tracks we compete on and has proved to be a track I run well on and have seen success at in the Truck Series with getting my first NASCAR win back in 2013 and another win in 2014.”

The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been successful in XFINITY action at the one-mile track as well, improving each race with finishes of sixth, fifth and third in three starts there.

“On the XFINITY side, we’ve run well and had good finishes at Phoenix, but I’m ready to get that first win at the track and of the season and I think Phoenix could be the place,” Jones said. “I know we’ll unload with a great Camry at Phoenix and if we can minimize the mistakes made at Atlanta and Las Vegas, there is no reason we can’t be there at the end and in contention for the win.”

Jones’ crew chief Chris Gabehart echoed his driver’s sentiments.

“With the speed we have shown the past two weekends in being able to battle back from such big early race deficits, we feel confident that if we can put an entire race together without having to come from behind at some point we will have a shot at the win.”

Image: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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