FORT WORTH, Tex. — Erik Jones had fellow Cup driver Ryan Blaney tracking him down in the final laps of Saturday night’s XFINITY race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Just like the spring, Jones was able to hold off Blaney over the final 72 laps and after a cycle of green-flag pit stops to complete the Texas sweep for his ninth career XFINITY win.
“We had a really fast race car and everybody kind of caught up,” Jones said. “The 22 was really good, the 42 was really good. We were down a little bit there on the tire situation at the end, but the GameStop Camry was good enough to hold them off. We just beat them off on pit road on a green-flag stop and we were able to use a little bit of lapped traffic to keep them behind us. What a day, just glad to finally get this thing finally back to victory lane.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve won a race so glad to get another win here and do it again at Texas.”
Jones won the pole for Saturday’s race and swept all three stages in the 200-lap event. clean air was king on the night as the No. 20 GameStop Camry maneuvered in-and-out of lapped traffic while keeping Blaney’s No. 22 Ford at bay. Series points leader Elliott Sadler held the runner-up spot for a bit until Blaney moved past him for second once the run went on.
“It was so hard to pass all night,” Blaney said. “We were way faster than Erik there towards the end of that run there before pit stops and we were faster than them there at the end by a good bit. I was so loose getting into 1, I couldn’t get there to even get him loose to have a chance. He was really good again on the bottom and making it stay. Lapped cars almost hurt his night and it hurt my night too so I wish that would’ve played out a little bit better.”
Blaney maintained the close gap between he and Jones in the last 15 laps, but was unable to get past the 21-year-old driver for his first Texas victory. Kyle Larson rebounded from a pit road miscue to finish third while Elliott Sadler was the highest-series regular in fourth.
Sadler leaves Texas as the new XFINITY points leader, now unofficially five markers ahead of JR Motorsports teammate William Byron and nine in front of Justin Allgaier.
“I love these guys. Everyone at JR Motorsports and Hendrick engine department give me such good race cars every week,” Sadler said. “We came to Texas with a plan, we were trying some stuff this weekend to help us for Homestead. Kevin and those guys made good adjustments all weekend, we were quick all weekend. I’m just living the dream. So much fun tonight, my car was really good. Erik and Blaney and those guys were so much better than me in 1 and 2. They got something figured out, I got to go to work before I come back next spring. All in all, it was a great night for us.”
The battle for the fourth-and-final spot for Homestead didn’t change as Brennan Poole finished seventh on the night after working his way past playoff contender Matt Tifft, who held the bubble spot during some of the race. Poole is five points ahead of Tifft for the final spot, with fifth-place finisher Cole Custer (-13) and Daniel Hemric (-18) having some ground to make up.
Next weekend’s race at Phoenix determines the Championship 4 for Homestead which will feature a first-time NASCAR national series champion.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…