By Brian Citino
When it comes to racing at Dover International Speedway, Erik Jones is used to only one thing — running with the front of the pack and competing for a win.
In one career start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and another in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the Monster Mile, Jones had finished in the top 10 both times. His third contest at Dover saw him not only keep with that trend, but improve upon it as he won the May 14 “Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200” NASCAR XFINITY Series race.
Erik Jones celebrates in Victory Lane following his victory in the “Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200” NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash race at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, May 14. GETTY IMAGES
The 19-year-old Jones, a rookie in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, will took home his first Monster Trophy as well as $100,000 he won for capturing the XFINITY Dash 4 Cash bonus.
“My car was pretty rough, but we made some good adjustments throughout the day,” said Jones. “On long runs we were just good enough to win.”
The win was Jones’ second this season and sixth top-10 finish, with the win at Dover building on his already impressive rookie campaign. The win also moves him into fifth place in the NASCAR XFINITY Series point standings, 40 behind leader Elliott Sadler, and firmly entrenched in the inaugural Chase playoffs coming later this year.
Jones led 76 laps, including the final 43. After a late caution — only one of two for the day — the driver of the No. 20 Reeser’s Fine Foods Toyota had to hold off Darrell Wallace Jr. and Alex Bowman for the final five laps when the race went green on lap 115. All top-three drivers are alums of the NASCAR Next program.
“Enough people stayed out on that last caution for us to hold on for the win,” said Jones.
Wallace was disappointed he didn’t get the win, but after a season that has seen his team struggle with consistency, he was pleased with the day’s positive result.
“Finishing second after the way the weekend started, that’s not what we had in mind,” said Wallace. “It’s good to come out there, though, to my favorite track and do really well.”
Even though he finished third, it was Bowman, who led 33 laps, that was the real threat to Jones. However, the No. 88 Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet ran out of time as the race wound down.
“We were definitely the strongest long-run car all day,” said Bowman. “We didn’t have the short run speed, though, and we lost the lead at the end.”
The win was Jones’ second Dash 4 Cash victory of the season, a race format that begins with two 40-lap Heat races, then a 120-lap Main event. Justin Allgaier and Ty Dillon won the Heats, but finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the main race.
The top-10 was rounded out by Sadler, Joey Logano, Matt Tifft, Daniel Suarez and Brennan Poole.