Erik Jones had a banner day at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, not only taking the win in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race, but also claiming the first of four Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonuses awarded by series sponsor, Xfinity. With the win, Jones became the first series regular to break into victory lane, seven races into the season.
“I never thought we’d get our first win here at Bristol this year,” Jones said. “Couldn’t be happier to get this GameStop Camry to victory lane and cool to do it with After Glow and everybody. Thank you to Chris Gabehart (crew chief) and this whole team; it’s a really young team, but we’re getting better every week, and it’s cool to see it pay off here in victory lane.”
Kyle Busch finished the 200-lap main event in second, Kyle Larson was third, Austin Dillon fourth, and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top-five.
Allgaier, along with Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon, were the three drivers challenging Jones for the Dash 4 Cash bonus, as they joined Jones as being top-two finishers among series championship-eligible drivers in one of the two 50-lap heat races. Jones led all 50 laps of the first heat race, while Sprint Cup regulars Larson and Busch finished second and third. Allgaier was fourth, and Brandon Jones finished fifth. Cup regular Austin Dillon led the entire second heat, with his brother, Ty Dillon, finishing second. A couple more Sprint Cup regulars also finished in the top-five in the second heat race — Joey Logano was third and Kevin Harvick fifth. Suarez finished fourth in heat two.
“We did everything we needed to right there,” Jones said. “It was good, and it was actually a little bit better than I thought it would be. When we kind of got moved up to the top, I was pretty Happy with it overall. Just need a little bit of forward drive, but we rolled the center, which is what kept us out front.”
In the main race, Jones started on the pole and led throughout the first 50 laps before Larson took over the top spot on lap 61. Larson went on to lead a race-high 94 laps of the 200-lap main event. Busch also led 43 laps before Jones retook the lead and drove on to the win after the final restart with three laps remaining.
“We had a really good restart, there,” Jones said. “The 18 (Busch) hadn’t been getting going. I lost my voice, because I’ve been screaming so much on the cool-down lap. We got a really good restart, and Kyle just left the top open, and we went up there, and he worked pretty hard to keep us behind him. We just kept digging, and it worked out.”
Jones restarted fourth, with Larson in the lead and Busch and Suarez in second and third. When the race returned to green for the final sprint to the finish, Jones quickly moved up to second and then took the lead from Larson. Busch moved up to second on the final lap.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Suarez, Ty Dillon, Harvick, Logano and Aric Almirola.