Saturday, 20 April, 2019

Jones earns 1st career Cup win at Daytona

Kyle Busch Kyle Larson Kyle Busch Kyle Larson
Cary Erickson | 12 July, 2018, 04:08

Matt DiDenedetto finished seventh in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway after starting 31st.

Jones passed Martin Truex Jr. with about a lap remaining after one of several earlier wrecks denied Truex from what looked like a sure victory. Then Willam Byron would overtake the lead on the ensuing lap.

"Oh boy, how 'bout that race boys and girls?"

"That was something else, man". "He got to my right rear quarter - just barely - enough to slow me down off of 2, and then the race was on from there". Wow, what an awesome race. My first Cup win.

"What an awesome day", he said afterward. I don't think I have finished this race in 10 years.

Last year's victor Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was out in front for 51 laps and won the first two stages of the race, but, with 36 laps to go, he and Kyle Larson were involved in a collision.

Jones was involved in one of the many wrecks Saturday night, but his No. 20 Toyota was still in good enough shape to get by Truex.

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With a push from Kahne, Truex got the lead after the final restart on Lap 167 but couldn't hold it. Thanks to a push from Chris Buescher, Jones was able to get ahead of Truex Jr. and stretched the advantage to a couple of vehicle lengths as the field raced through Turns 3 and 4.

Relive the wrecks, drama and celebrations as Erik Jones takes the checkered flag in the Florida night.

Daytona 500 victor Austin Dillon didn't seem to be much of a factor, but he made it to the end of the night and finished ninth.

Even worse, Stenhouse was right at the center of the night's two biggest wrecks, including one early on that involved a number of top cars. Shortly thereafter, carnage once again struck, again coming at the hands of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who was running in 3rd at the time, clipped the 18 of Kyle Busch, who clipped William Byron who was leading and they both took a ride.

STENHOUSE, AGAIN: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the focus of much of the evening's caution activity, caused the eighth caution with 11 laps to go when damage on his vehicle caused a tire rub and eventually a tire failure. Following in the top 10 were Kyle Larson, Byron, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman. The first occurred on lap 157 involving Jimmie Johnson, Aric Almirola, Joey Gase and Michael McDowell. Jones battled back from damage sustained in a multicar wreck on Lap 65, an accident that cost him a lap.

The victory was the first Cup win for the 22-year-old Jones, a driver nurtured by Toyota's motorsports program and one of the leading representatives of the young group of drivers expected to gain traction over the next few years.