Graduation day and a truck race at Texas for Erik Jones
06/06/2014 10:07 AM
06/06/2014 10:07 AM
Kyle Busch has won the last three races in the series -- Kansas, Charlotte and Dover -- but Busch is not competing at Texas, as the Sprint Cup Series is running at Pocono Raceway this weekend.
Erik Jones is driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Texas. Jones, who turned 18 years old on May 30, is scheduled to make his seventh career start in trucks but his first on an intermediate track. Last November at Phoenix, Jones became the youngest race winner in series history. His first start this season came in March at Martinsville, where he finished 18th.
KBM's No. 51 and No. 54 trucks have combined to win seven of the last nine races in the series, dating back to Darrell Wallace Jr.'s historic win on Oct. 26, 2013 at Martinsville.
"Racing on my first mile-and-a-half track is something I have been looking forward to for a long time now," Jones said. "It was great that NASCAR opened up the age to 16 for the Truck Series on short tracks, but still the main goal is to get on these big tracks. That's where the bulk of the schedule is, so I think it's something that every driver looks forward to. Kyle and this No. 51 team have had a lot of success on the mile-and-a-half tracks already this year, so I hope to go out and keep that streak alive."
While competing at Texas Motor Speedway, Jones will miss his high school graduation on Friday. However, just before driver introductions for the truck race here, Jones will walk across the pre-race stage in his cap and gown from Swartz Creek (Mich.) Community Schools to receive his high school diploma from track president Eddie Gossage, as "Pomp and Circumstance" plays on the PA system.
"I really only dreamed about running a NASCAR race, so I definitely couldn't imagine getting a high school diploma at one," Jones said. "I think it fits pretty well. The balance of my life since I was about seven [years old] has been those two things. It'll make for a great story someday and something that will make the torture of getting through high school more meaningful.
"Talking with friends the other day, they were wondering if I was going to be walking with my class. After I told them what was going to happen, they thought it was pretty awesome. I really can't think of a better way to get a diploma than at a racetrack, ready to go racing."
Just 27 teams are entered for the WinStar World Casino 400, which is nine short of a full 36-truck field.
Jeb Burton, the 21-year-old son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, scored his maiden victory in the series one year ago at Texas, driving for Turner Scott Motorsports at the time. Burton is now behind the wheel of the No. 13 Toyota for ThorSport Racing.
Series: NASCAR Camping World. Date: Friday, June 6. Race: WinStar World Casino 400. Site: Texas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 9 p.m. ET. Laps: 167. Miles: 250.5 (400 kilometers). 2013 Winner: Jeb Burton. Television: FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.