Jones wins ARCA race after Weatherman runs out of gas

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Brooklyn — Brandon Jones took advantage of a bad pit strategy gamble by Kyle Weatherman’s team and went on to win the ARCA series Corrigan Oil 200 on Friday evening at Michigan International Speedway.

Weatherman’s No. 55 ran out of fuel with four laps remaining on the two-mile superspeedway while leading and Jones blazed by in his No. 8 Valvoline-Menard Chevrolet and went on to defeat points leader Chase Briscoe in the No. 77 Cunningham Motorsports Ford.

“I didn’t know what (pit) cycle he was on, if he was going to run out of fuel or not, but it came out in our favor for sure,” said the 19-year-old Jones who will compete in the Xfinity series race at MIS on Saturday afternoon. “I feel all day long we had an awesome Menards Valvoline Chevy.

“It’s my first time at Michigan, and I think pretty much all day long 77 (Briscoe) was a pretty good car in front of us for a while and it was pretty hard to get around him due to aero(dynamics) on the race car there. But, once we were able to get around him obviously we freed up a little bit getting out of the dirty air and were able to take off.”

It was Jones’ third career win and first superspeedway victory.

Briscoe had trouble in the pits, stalling which could have cost him a shot at Victory Lane, but still left with the points lead.

“I’m definitely happy, big picture-wise looking at the points,” said Briscoe who is still looking for his first win of the season. “Brandon was, I feel, like a little bit better than us all day long, but when I was out front he could never do anything with me. When I would get in bad air and get in traffic sometimes it would break my momentum and end up killing me the whole entire lap and sometimes even two laps.”

And, NASCAR fans should put the name of Kyle Benjamin on their list to keep an eye on for future years.

Benjamin felt right at home at MIS since taking his first laps on the track Thursday in practice, then finished third in the race in his No. 28 MDM-Hillman Racing Chevrolet.

ARCA drivers must be 18 to compete at MIS and the 18-year-old Benjamin, who just graduated from high school in South Carolina, was thrilled with his first opportunity.

So, what did Benjamin learn in his first run in a composite car at MIS.

“These cars are different, the body is different, it has a lot more sideforce so it handles a little different in traffic than the old body and a I got a pretty good feel for it today,” pointed out Benjamin.

Benjamin became the youngest driver to win an ARCA event when at 15 he won an event at Madison, Wisconsin. That record has since been broken by Todd Gilliland — son of Sprint Cup driver David Gilliland —at 15 years, two days last year at Toledo.

Benjamin talked of MIS and how it differs from Pocono where he finished sixth in his first ARCA race.

“I like it a lot, it’s a really cool place, different than anything I’ve ever done,” explained Benjamin said. “Even at Pocono, you have to slow it down in the corner, but here you don’t touch the brake pedal. I haven’t done anything like that before so it takes a little bit to get used to.”

Jones tops charts

Erik Jones was the fastest in the opening practice Friday afternoon for the Xfinity series Menards 250 which will be run Saturday at 1:30.

Jones, who graduated from Swartz Creek two years ago, had a fast lap of 192.092 mph in his Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota. He was fourth fastest in the second practice with Joey Logano topping the field at 191.826.

Jones, 20, was a substitute driver in the Sprint Cup series for Kyle Busch last year after Busch suffered serious leg injuries in the opening weekend of the season at Daytona.

Jones also competes for Busch in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series. Jones finished third last August at MIS in the Truck series, but this is his debut in the Xfinity series at the track.

Ground hog delays action

A ground hog made his way on the track and showed his elusiveness, delaying action for nearly 10 minutes.

The groundhog, which was finally captured by track officials, was then delivered to the Phelps property, a 65 acre parcel across the street from M-50.