BRISTOL, Tenn. – Brandon Jones has led 111 laps in his seven NASCAR Xfinity starts at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The second-year Joe Gibbs Racing driver hopes to take the next step in today’s Alsco 300 and claim his first top-five.
“We’re optimistic coming back here,” Jones said. “I know what I did to be really good here last year and in the past, and I hope to put it all together in the race.”
Jones, 22, offered the following review after his first research and development run on the Bristol TrackBite traction compound Friday afternoon.
“It was crazy because the tires just never gave up,” Jones said. “Everyone got continually faster and faster. Even by lap 30, some people were running their quickest times.”
According to Jones, today’s drama could feature a prolonged episode of high-lane drifters.
“I saw some people trying to work the top groove,” Jones said. “Maybe that will carry over into the race with limited people running on the bottom. But if someone goes on the bottom and starts making it work, it could ignite that stuff and make it better.”
In his debut year with the Gibbs team last season, Jones posted career-highs in top-five and top-10 finishes, laps led and average finishes, in addition to finishing a career-best ninth in the standings.
Through six races this season, Jones has already earned two top-fives. He currently ranks seventh in points.
“It helps a lot whenever you are working with the same people and crew,” Jones said. “We did have a crew chief change this season, but Jeff Meendering and I have hit it off pretty well on and off the track.”
Jones has raced inside the top-five and top-10 in nearly every event this season.
“Our momentum is up big-time,” said Jones, son of Rheem Comfort Products president and longtime NASCAR team sponsor JR Jones. “We’ve had two incidents that have kind of knocked us back a little, but we’ve had fast cars each week and that’s all I can ask for.”
For Jones and many short track dreamers, Bristol represents the ultimate proving ground.
“This is one of those places that I could run at age 18,” Jones said. “My first Truck race was Bristol, so I’ve had a lot of laps around this place in different vehicles. Coming up through the ranks, I’ve collected a lot of data from different Cup drivers.”
One of those mentors for Jones was the Yoda of Bristol himself – seven-time BMS Cup winner Kyle Busch.
“Kyle is one of the best in the business on this track,” Jones said. “He’s helped me here on where to brake, where to get on the gas and which lines are more effective. I’m trying to combine my information here and just get better.”