When the green flag flew Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, it had been 74 races since Brandon Jones has seen the top five in an XFINITY Series race. But when the checkered flag flew after 115 laps, it turned to zero.
After starting 15th in the Sparks Energy 300, Jones survived the fuel mileage break-up in the final 40 laps to restart third in an overtime finish to settle it. The first-year Joe Gibbs Racing driver got split by eventual race winner Spencer Gallagher in Turn 4 with two laps to go, yet, stayed in touch with the No. 23 as the white flag flew.
In fact, they hooked up on the inside lane and finished 1-2 across the line. A second-place run for Jones is the best of his 80-race XFINITY career and first top five since 2015 at Kentucky Speedway.
“I didn’t think second was going to be the outcome of that,” Jones said of the final lap. “You saw us back up on the bottom lane. I was really trying to work my side-drafts. If I could’ve gotten to the No. 23 [Gallagher], I think we could’ve sucked him back a little, but we didn’t have the opportunity at the end.”
With now three straight top 10s for 2018, Jones is gaining confidence and appreciation with his JGR camp.
“Second is pretty phenomenal for this track,” he said. “Knowing how hard it is to make it to the end. Phenomenal run for our guys, phenomenal year. They transported me to a 12th-place car to now almost a winning car every week. I cant be more happy with the group I have with me currently.”
Additionally, Saturday’s runner-up finish locks Jones into the Dash 4 Cash contest come Dover International Speedway next weekend.
“Dover has been a track I’ve been pretty competitive in the past in Trucks and XFINITY,” he said. “Hopefully it’s something we can capitalize on. We’re going to keep the top-five streak going alive.”