LAS VEGAS — By Chris Knight, NASCAR Wire Service — Christian Petersen/NASCAR via Getty Images photo — He isn’t old enough to gamble, but Erik Jones played his cards right on Saturday night and won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Jones, 18, made a late-race pass on his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. with 13 laps to go, earning his second victory in nine starts this season.
“It was a blast,” said Jones, who recovered from an early race hiccup on pit road to win in his debut at Las Vegas. “I learned a ton. To get a win on a mile-and-a-half that’s awesome. It drove so good at the end, I couldn’t ask for any more than this. I wanted to win out here so bad, I had this marked down as one I was looking forward to. This is really surreal for me right now.”
Jones, who notched KBM’s 10th NCWTS win of 2014 credited crew chief Eric Phillips with the right adjustments on the final stop that earned him his third-career victory in 14 NCWTS starts.
“It was perfect,” he added. “We were way, way too loose in traffic before it, but we had a strong Tundra. It was a perfect adjustment. We made a big swing at it, it just worked out.”
For Wallace Jr., after a dominant performance, took the defeat as a huge bust.
“Just got beat, flat out,” said Wallace Jr., after recording his fifth runner-up performance of the season. “Congrats to the 51 (Jones), hate that it’s not the 54. We need a win. (It’s) frustrating, I hate finishing second so bad. Thanks to my guys though. I thought it was ours. Another KBM dominance for sure. We’ll go onto Talladega and try to finish one spot better.”
Ryan Blaney recorded his second 21 Means 21 Pole Award of the season and led the field to green, but Wallace Jr. used momentum to make the pass for the lead on Lap 1.
Blaney, though, reclaimed the top-spot for six laps on Lap 2, before Wallace Jr. retook control on Lap 8 and led for 10 laps, when German Quiroga made a move on the second restart of the night. His Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters flexed his muscles, taking the lead on Lap 19, before Jones muscled ahead for five laps, until the scheduled competition caution on Lap 30.
When the leaders hit pit road, Jones barely overshot his pit stall, which cost him the lead, allowing Peters to put his No. 17 Toyota Tundra back on the point.
Peters controlled the field for 17 laps, before Wallace Jr. muscled back around him on Lap 51. The fourth and final caution of the race waived on Lap 57 for an accident in Turn 4, which sent the leaders to pit road.
Peters’ crew won the race off pit lane, but Wallace Jr. soared ahead on the restart, which set the tone for the second half of the event, until green flag pit stops began on Lap 105.
Wallace Jr. cycled back through to the lead on Lap 114, but Jones already on the prowl caught him, making the move on the frontstretch on Lap 133, sealing his triumph.
With five races remaining, the NCWTS will take a three-week break before returning to action at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, October 18.