Saturday's roundup: Michigan's Jones makes it two straight at Bristol
Bristol, Tenn. — Erik Jones claimed back-to-back Xfinity Series victories, at both Bristol Motor Speedway and on the season.
Jones, the Byron, Michigan, native also won at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, and he was the defending race winner at Bristol from last year.
With 20 laps remaining, Jones moved Ryan Blaney out of the lead to take over the top spot in a race Saturday that had a lengthy interruption for rain.
He later had to hold Blaney off on a three-lap shootout at the finish to earn the eighth Xfinity Series race of his career.
“Man, we were racing hard,” Jones said. “I didn’t know whether we had a winning car or not. It was a race I won’t forget for a long time. It was just an awesome day for us.”
Jones won in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing on Saturday, but he’s shown strong speed in his Furniture Row Racing car all weekend in preparation for the Cup race on Sunday.
Ryan Blaney finished second — the same result he’s had in all three Xfinity Series races he’s entered.
“Three seconds this year, so that’s getting old,” Blaney said.
Daniel Suarez was third to give the JGR cars two spots in the top three. Xfinity Series leader Elliott Sadler was fourth.
Daniel Hemric won a $100,000 bonus from Xfinity as part of its Dash-4-Cash program. He finished fifth.
The race had some off-track excitement when Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements had a confrontation on pit road during the rain stoppage. Clements appeared to approach Chastain from behind to initiate a discussion, but when he grabbed Chastain, the driver turned and punched Clements.
Clements went to the care center and emerged wearing sunglasses before he continued the race.
“Somebody grabbed me by my shoulders and kind of pushed me,” Chastain said. “I just turned around and saw who it was. I hope he realizes now that he can talk, we can talk, but you can’t grab someone by the shoulders. That happened before and I said right then I wouldn’t let it happen again.”
In 2015, Ryan Reed approached Chastain from behind and shoved him after an Xfinity race at Iowa.
Will Power is the front-runner at Barber Motorsports Park once again.
Power claimed the pole for the fourth time at the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in a qualifying session dominated by Team Penske. Power’s fast lap of 1:06.9614 gave him 46 career starts up front. Teammates Helio Castroneves and defending champion Simon Pagenaud lined up right behind.
Current Team Penske drivers have won five of the seven IndyCar races at Barber Motorsports Park and claimed the pole seven times in eight years.
They’re followed by Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe, who’s coming off a win at Long Beach for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Honda has won the first two races but the top six qualifiers were split evenly with Chevrolet-powered teams thanks to Penske.