Jones pow­ers past Dil­lon for third vic­tory of the sea­son

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By BRIAN EBERLY

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— For 83 laps, it looked like Ty Dil­lon’s win­less drought would fi­nally end. That was un­til Erik Jones flashed the bril­liance that has many pre­dict­ing big things for the Joe Gibbs Rac­ing prodigy.

Jones led a race-high 154 laps in the No. 20 DeWalt Toy­ota en route to vic­tory lane on Satur­day night in the U.S. Cel­lu­lar 250 at Iowa Speed­way. Jones passed Dil­lon with 15 laps re­main­ing to re­take the lead for the fi­nal time of the night and beat Dil­lon’s No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevro­let to the check­ered flag by 3.533 sec­onds.

The NASCAR XFIN­ITY Series vic­tory was the third of the sea­son for Jones and the fifth of his ca­reer in his 45th start. Hav­ing one of the most im­pres­sive Sunoco Rookie of the Year cam­paigns in re­cent mem­ory, Jones has 11 top-five and 12 top-10 re­sults in 19 starts this sea­son.

“It’s a great day. We had a great car. One that def­i­nitely de­served to win the race,” Jones said in vic­tory lane. “The fastest car I feel like won tonight, which is al­ways a good feel­ing. It was an awe­some day for us.

“I feel like we de­served to win when we came here ear­lier this year, we had a re­ally fast car. It was nice to get some re­demp­tion for that one.”

Jones qual­i­fied sec­ond but passed his Joe Gibbs Rac­ing team­mate Daniel Suarez on the first lap. While sev­eral teams flew in Sprint Cup pit crews from Po­cono, the Joe Gibbs Rac­ing teams did not. De­spite drop­ping spots af­ter pit­ting, Jones would quickly re­gain them when the field re­turned to green.

When the cau­tion flew at Lap 150 as Bran­don McReynolds made hard con­tact with the Turn 1 wall, teams hit pit road for fresh tires and fuel. Dil­lon’s pit crew had the quick­est stop to give Dil­lon the lead for the first time of the night at Lap 152.

NEWTON, IOWA

When the field re­turned to green, Dil­lon was able to put some dis­tance be­tween his No. 3 Chevro­let and Jones. Dil­lon would lead the next 83 laps be­fore Jones drove to the bot­tom and made the fi­nal pass on Dil­lon at Lap 235.

“I want the win so bad,” said Dil­lon, whose drought ex­tended to 66 races. “That was all I had. They (Joe Gibbs Rac­ing) are good right now. That was all I had.

“I’m proud of my guys. They gave us a great op­por­tu­nity tonight. My heart’s been bro­ken ev­ery race since Indy (site of Dil­lon’s last win in 2014). I want to get in vic­tory lane again. We’re close; we just have to get a lit­tle bet­ter.”

Brad Ke­selowski, the only Sprint Cup reg­u­lar to make the trip from Po­cono Race­way, site of this Sun­day’s Sprint Cup Series race (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), fin­ished eighth in the No. 22 Dis­count Tire Ford.

Daniel Suarez won the Coors Light Pole Award on Satur­day af­ter­noon and ran sec­ond to his team­mate Jones for the first-half of the race. On the restart for McReynolds’ ac­ci­dent, Suarez was run­ning sev­enth and when Josh Berry’s No. 88 didn’t go, Suarez’s No. 19 ARRIS Toy­ota plowed into it, suf­fer­ing heavy front-end dam­age. Suarez would re­main on track for sev­eral laps be­fore hit­ting pit road. Un­able to con­tinue, Suarez fin­ished 30th and lost the lead in the cham­pi­onship stand­ings to El­liott Sadler.

By virtue of his third-place fin­ish in the No. 1 OneMain Chevro­let, Sadler leads Suarez by 14 points.

The NASCAR XFIN­ITY Series re­turns to ac­tion next Satur­day at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional for the run­ning of the Zippo 200 at The Glen.

GETTY IM­AGES FOR NASCAR

Erik Jones cel­e­brates in vic­tory lane af­ter win­ning the NASCAR XFIN­ITY Series U.S. Cel­lu­lar 250 at Iowa Speed­way on Satur­day in Newton, Iowa.

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