Who says kids are afraid of monsters?
Erik Jones sure isn’t as the 19-year-old drove to victory at Dover International Speedway to claim the win in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200. The victory is his second win of 2016 and fourth of his XFINITY Series career.
“Coming down to a short-run, I knew we were in a really good spot,” Jones said of the final six-lap shootout. “I just wasn’t sure on how many cars were going to stay out. Fortuantly enough people stayed out on that last caution that just let us have enough of a gap to tires to stay out front and bring home a win.”
Winning his second Dash 4 Cash event this year – with the first coming on the other high-banked concrete track of Bristol – Jones thinks his repeat success came down to the racetrack.
“The tracks they’re at are tracks that I’ve had historically good runs at,” Jones said. “The heat race format just gives us a chance to go out and adjust on our stuff. I don’t think that hurts our team at all.”
Coming home second was Darrell Wallace, Jr., who played strategy after the race’s final caution with 11 laps remaining to jump into the runner-up spot. Despite going to a backup car after a practice crash, Wallace grabbed his career-high effort.
“Our team, I keep saying it, we never give up,” Wallace said. “It is really a credit to my guys right here for really thrashing this thing. It is unfortunate when you do have to bring the backup car out. We never give up and we work really hard to get some speed in this baby.”
The second-place also stands as the highest XFINITY Series finish for an African-American driver as he breaks his own record of third from 2015.Behind Wallace was the feel-good story of the afternoon in Alex Bowman. Driving for JR Motorsports, Bowman snapped a six-month racing-free hiatus at Dover, leading 33 laps before finishing third.
“I feel like [the pressure to perform] really pushed me to stay on top of my game and work harder,” Bowman said, who has eight races remaining in his JRM deal. “I don’t have a choice. It’s either break out this year or get a real job.”
Standing as the third of four Dash 4 Cash heat racing weekends for 2016, the Monster Mile presented quite the challenge for some of the top teams in the XFINITY garage.
The first occurred during heat race No. 2 when Chip Ganassi Racing driver, Justin Marks, lost his No. 42 off Turn 4, pounded the inside wall before ricocheting into the non-protected outside wall. Marks was unable to start the 120-lap main event as it was the first accident through six heat races in 2016.
“I was just trying to hang on to it,” Marks said. “It was a pretty good hit. The car is junk. I hate that we came all this way and we don’t really get to race today.”
Joining Marks on the Miles the Monster’s hit list is Paul Menard, Brandon Jones, Ryan Reed and Brendan Gaughan who all found trouble throughout the race.
Rounding out the top 10 is Justin Allgaier, who won heat race No. 2, finishing third, Ty Dillon fourth along with Elliott Sadler, Joey Logano, Matt Tifft, Daniel Suarez and Brennan Poole.
A few small teams jumped into the top 20 as JJ Yeley came home 11th for TriStar Motorsports, tying the team’s best non-plate result since Road America in 2014. Drew Herring made his first XFINITY start since 2013, finishing 14th while Ryan Sieg, Ray Black, Jr. and BJ McLeod grabbed solid top 20s.
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