Michigan native Erik Jones may be only 15-years-old, but he is already a Late Model champion in a touring series. He accomplished that mission Saturday by claiming the prestigious JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour championship with a fourth place finish in the 100-lap season finale on the high-banks on Winchester Speedway (IN).
Jones survived a few scuffles on what turned out to be one wild night in his Paragon Corvette Reproductions, CG Financial, Penske Racing Shocks, Snap Fitness Chevy at the mid-Indiana racetrack. In the end, Jones beat veteran Eddie Hoffman (16th) by 12 spots to secure his position as the inaugural JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour Champion.
“It was definitely a crazy night,” said Jones. “It felt like the full moon was out. We were working our way up there, just being patient; you know, not trying to get caught up in anything. A car got into us on the restart and ran us into the wall. We came in and the car was actually still ok, so we went back out and just started picking them off.”
Steadily back in the top-5, Jones’ crew kept him updated of the championship status throughout the remainder of the event.
“Actually,” explained Jones. “The crew came over the radio on about lap fifty or sixty and said there were only eighteen cars left and they just told me to open it up.”
At only 15 years old, Jones has accomplished something many grown men, some he’s even competing against, have only dreamed about. And he’s not going to let the splendor of it get away too quickly.
“Now that it’s finally over,” said Jones, “It’s really cool. It’s starting to sink in a little bit actually.
“It’s been a crazy year. We were at Anderson (Speedway, IN) about halfway through the year and thought we were just going to give up on the series because we were just not doing as well as we wanted to. So to come back from feeling like that and win the championship is amazing.
The season produced a pair of wins and seven fast time awards, including the finale at Winchester, to propel him to the top of the standings.
“This whole crew and all of our sponsors all came together to win this thing,” continued Jones. “It wasn’t just me. All the support my family has given me all the way through has been crucial. From when I was seven years old, all the way until now; they support me in everything I do.”
While Jones is only 15 years old his crew chief was also a youngster as 19-year-old Butch VanDoorn served as the winning crew chief all season long.
Now with a Late Model Touring Series title firmly stamped on his racing resume, Erik Jones will look forward to some exciting post-season racing action. Jones and his Paragon Corvette Reproductions #4 Chevy team will now prepare for two of the biggest short track races of the year, the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway on December 3rd and 4th in Pensacola, Florida.