All the stars lined up perfectly for 15-year-old Erik Jones at Owosso Speedway in Michigan Saturday night. Jones swept his way through the CRA/JEGS All-Stars Tour event at Owosso by taking the pole in qualifying and putting on a winning performance in the feature in order to jump to the point lead in the series.
Making the night’s sweep even more special was the fact that the win came in front of a hometown crowd, as Owosso is located just a few miles from the young driver’s hometown of Byron, Michigan.
"It was probably one of the coolest feelings I have ever had to win a race," said Jones. "I had run there (at Owosso) so many times in 30-lap features, so to get a win in a big race like that was really cool. We did in front of the hometown fans too and that was special."
The post-qualifying redraw placed Jones’ Paragon Corvette Reproductions Chevrolet fifth in the starting lineup, but he patiently worked his way forward. As he was trying to get his No. 4 machine to the front, a tricky track and a pack of tight competition made it tough for the new point leader.
"Normally there are three grooves there, but on Saturday it seemed like the only lane that was working was the top one," said Jones. "We picked our way up to the front and got the lead after a red flag."
From there on, Jones was in business as he led the final 17 laps to pick up the win at the hometown track. Just two seasons ago, the young driver was racing a Street Stock at Owosso Speedway. Now, he is a winner on the competitive regional Late Model tour there.
"There is always a little more pressure going into your home track," said Jones. "Last year we were leading there in another Late Model series and the fuel pump broke, so the place kind of owed us one."
Jones’ heartbreaking finish at Owosso in 2010 came in the Varney Late Model Series, the series in which he won his first-ever Late Model race and challenged veteran short tracker Eddie Hoffman for the series title. His bid came up short as he finished third in his first full season of Late Model racing, but 2011 now finds him taking the points lead, from Hoffman, with only three races to go.
"Eddie's a good racer and he's been around a long time," said Jones. "I know we have improved from last year to this year. I have learned a lot from a year ago to now. It's all coming together. It's really made for a great year."
Jones will look to keep up his hot streak when the CRA/JEGS All-Stars head to Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan on Saturday, September 10th. Jones got some laps in earlier this season with the CRA Super Series at Berlin, but the local regulars plus the JEGS tour’s top talents will make the Berlin event a tough one.
“I like Berlin. It's a cool place to race at I learned a lot about conserving tires when we ran the Rowdy 251 back in June. We think we'll have some good notes to be strong again.”
For more information visit www.erikjonesracing.com or email Elgin Traylor at Elgin@51sports.net