By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite an early spin, Brandon Jones recovered to finish inside the top-10 at Watkins Glen International. Jones also had to battle the elements as a downpour forced teams to switch to rain tires in the middle of the Zippo 200.
Jones benefitted from the troubles of others to take his No. 19 Toyota Service Centers / Mobil 1 Toyota Camry to the front. On the final restart, engine problems for Kyle Larson helped the Joe Gibbs Racing driver gain several positions as the field bunched up behind the stricken No. 42. With just three laps to go, Brad Keselowski over drove turn one, looping the car around, giving Jones another position. The first-year JGR driver took the checkered flag in seventh.
Before breaking into the top-10 in the final stage, Jones overcame several obstacles. In the first stage, after short-pitting, Jones spun into the tire barrier at the inner loop. He caught the curbing, sending the car careening into the tire barrier nose-first. With little damage, Jones continued to finish the stage outside the top-10 two laps later.
Just three laps into the second stage, a wreck brought out the caution in time for a fast-moving downpour. The rain forced teams to switch to rain tires. Jones navigated the treacherous conditions without incident. The rooster-tails made visibility terrible as cars quickly vanished from view.
“Despite the craziness that happened with the rain, we had an issue,” Jones explained. “We got on a curb pretty hard and got into the barrier some and I thought I hurt it worse than I did, which we actually just kind of had some body damage and nothing really too critical. We salvaged and stayed after it all day and came home with seventh in our Toyota Camry. We stayed after it and it was a pretty phenomenal day by everybody. I think it definitely gives every one of our guys and myself some confidence going to Mid-Ohio.”
The seventh-place finish was the ninth top-10 for Jones this season. He remains sixth in the Championship Points Standings, 128-points behind Points Leader, and teammate, Christopher Bell. Jones is also 183-points ahead of the cutoff for the Playoffs, held by Ross Chastain.
Now Jones and his JGR team will prepare for the second of three road courses in the month of August, the Rock n Roll Tequila 170 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.