LONG POND, Pa. — Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Northeast Correspondent Kyle Magda — Robert Laberge/Getty Images North America photo —
NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie Brandon Jones has driven everything in 2016.
From Ranier Racing with MDM’s Camping World Truck Series debut, to running a full season of XFINITY for Richard Childress Racing, the 18-year-old driver has done it all thus far.
However, this weekend, he’ll do something he hasn’t done just yet — tackle the ‘Tricky Triangle,’ the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway.
Jones had never competed at the track until this past Tuesday’s open ARCA test, and he spent time in a second entry for RRWMDM to gain additional experience before Saturday’s inaugural XFINITY Series event at Pocono.
“It is definitely the Tricky Triangle, but I’m having fun for sure,” Jones said. “It’s a unique little racetrack, it’s kind of like a road course, but turn left the entire time, but I think we’ve got a great little Menards Chevy to go at it for this weekend’s race. Looking forward to getting back out there.”
Pocono’s three turns makes it unique. Turn One is based off the defunct Trenton Speedway, the Tunnel Turn is similar to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Turn Three is designed like the Milwaukee Mile, where the XFINITY and Truck Series competed at in the past.
“It’s going to be interesting, but the biggest thing I’ve seen is you have to carry a ton of speed through the Tunnel Turn and you have to get committed on every single corner,” Jones said of Pocono. “You can’t second-guess yourself in any of these corners or it’ll bite you back pretty fast. I’m just working my way up, still kind of to the track to … just getting used to it and taking some more time..”
The Rainer name returns to the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards with two cars in Friday’s General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200, with Jones driving the No. 8 Messina Wildlife Management Chevrolet and ARCA veteran Kyle Benjamin driving the iconic No. 28 in his ARCA season debut.
Ironically enough, the 18-year-old Benjamin previously competed at the Tricky Triangle last June, making his superspeedway debut in the series then, and was aiding Jones during Tuesday’s test.
“He helped me a little bit actually before we got going, showing me some points he uses on the track and lift points and things like that, so I haven’t been able to help him yet, but he’s given me some pointers for sure,” Jones said.
Friday’s ARCA event also features the first time composite-bodied cars will race on a superspeedway, and both RRWMDM cars use the composite-body on the 2.5-mile facility. Jones turned the fifth-fastest time in the open ARCA test before hopping back in the No. 33 Menards Chevrolet Thursday and turning laps for the first time at Pocono in an XFINITY car.
He also drove a steel-bodied car in select superspeedway events last season, until the announcement was made to use the new-style of cars debuting this weekend.
“I’ve haven’t seen a big change really,” Jones said of the swap to the composite body. “I think that the biggest thing is the weight is different for the composite cars. They give us a pretty big weight break I think to run those bodies, so that’s probably where some of the speed is also there as well, so that’s the biggest thing I’ve seen.”
“Ranier Racing with MDM’s had a ton of momentum so far. Their East cars have been unbelievably fast — their Trucks, ARCA cars, everything’s been great so far, so I’m looking forward to keeping that going. Hopefully, adding on to their trophy list this weekend here at Pocono. That’d be awesome.”
The last two June ARCA events at Pocono were won by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers in Kyle Larson and Trevor Bayne, but that streak comes to an end this weekend as no drivers from NASCAR’s top series are entered in the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200.
Jones and Ryan Reed, however, are the two drivers scheduled to pull double-duty — running both the ARCA and XFINITY Series races.
To listen to Race Chaser Online’s full interview with Brandon Jones, click the player below:
About the Writer
Kyle Magda is a Northeast Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and a co-host of both Motorsports Madness and the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show, airing at 7 p.m. ET on Monday and Thursday nights, respectively, on the Performance Motorsports Network. Magda broke into racing in mid-2001 as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.
The 23-year-old is a graduate of Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.
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