For a number of very significant reasons, a mid-week Money in the Bank 150 victory at Berlin Raceway, is exactly what the doctor ordered for NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones.
Racing just two hours west of his hometown of Byron, Michigan, the 27-year-old driver tackled Wednesday’s 150-lap contest at the 7/16th-mile facility in search of a momentum boost, driving his own Late Model, No. 4.
Having jumped around the top five for the first two-thirds of Wednesday’s event, Jones started to come on strong as the field approached the final competition caution of the event, at which time Jones had climbed to second place.
The final restart of the event came with 30 laps remaining and featured Jones starting on the outside of the front row, alongside Kyle Crump. A seven-year veteran of the NASCAR Cup Series, Jones was able to clear for the lead and drove away for the victory.
“We went into turn three after that [restart] and it felt pretty good, and I thought if this thing stays green, I feel like we’re in pretty good shape. Felt good if the yellow didn’t come out – I felt good after that, too, but we were cycling a little bit – a little bit challenging earlier in the race, restarts were tough, I was struggling a little bit with the transmission, and getting shifted.”
“Finally hit a good one there at the end and Kyle [Crump] spun a little bit and we were able to get that lead,” Jones continued. “Coming to green, I said I got to get the lead here and at least try to race him for it. So, it worked out good, and no cautions at the end were fine by me, so it’s a pretty cool day.”
Kyle Crump came home in second place, while Bubba Pollard, Andrew Scheid, and Gio Ruggiero rounded out the top five. Blake Rowe, Sean Hingorani, Scott Thomas, Trevor Sanborn and Austin Hull completed the top-10.
The triumph for Jones is an emotional one, as the LEGACY MOTOR CLUB driver returns to victory lane at Berlin Raceway for the first time since 2016, an event which happened in the same week as he lost his father, Dave.
“This was [emotional] for a lot of reasons. It’s been a long time since I won a race here, and the last one I won was an emotional one, lost my Dad that week and this was the day in 2016 that he actually passed away, so it’s a tough day always,” Jones told FloRacing. “But, it felt good to be at the track, felt good to be racing, and I bet he has to be smiling right now, so that’s pretty cool.”
The mid-week trip to Michigan is a welcome distraction for Jones, who has had a dismal season in the NASCAR Cup Series thus far, scoring only two top-10 finishes in the first 15 events of the year.
To make matters worse, Jones and LEGACY MOTOR CLUB were slapped with an L1-level penalty just hours before the long-time NASCAR competitor strapped into the car to race at Berlin Raceway, drop-kicking him to 30th in points.
“It feels good, right,” said Jones. “I’m a confident guy and always feel good about my ability, but it’s tough when you’re running not how you want to run, and we’re trying to get things better on that side, but man it feels good to come here and just wrench with some good friends.”
After his celebration is complete, Jones will have to focus forward to Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Sonoma Raceway, where he now likely sits in a must-win situation if he hopes to make the postseason.