Super Late Model competition is stiff all throughout the country, but to make your first two starts in this type of racecar in two of the most prestigious races of the year is unheard of. Yet, that’s exactly what 15 year-old Erik Jones has done. And to top it off, not only did he finish fifth in his first SLM start at the recent World Crown 300, but he scored the victory Saturday night in the 46th annual Governor’s Cup 200 at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
To add to the impressive nature of his triumph, this year’s JEGS/CRA All Stars Tour champ led all 200 laps of the race in his Paragon Corvette Reproductions Super Late Model after qualifying second earlier in the evening.
“It’s cool to be able to win this race in just my second Super Late Model start,” said Jones. “Butch (VanDoorn, crew chief) gave me a great car for the weekend. Everybody worked together and made the right adjustment at the (halfway) break. It turned out that qualifying second was actually better than qualifying on the pole; that was kind of a secret blessing (to start on the outside groove) and it’s what got us out front and we just stayed there.”
Although Jones dominated the historic race, it didn’t come easily as he had to keep his #4 Chevy ahead of several of Florida’s best Super Late Model veterans.
“We were worried about a few guys there on the restarts,” explained Jones. “We were a little slower on the restarts, and then after a few laps we started to pull away. Jeff Choquette was coming from the back there for a while too and he was coming pretty strong, but it just worked out that the laps kept clicking away for us. When we got down to 20 laps to go I was like, ‘We’re probably going to win this thing,’ and it was definitely a cool feeling.”
After taking the checkered flag, even Jones was a little surprised by finding Super Late Model success so quickly into his career.
“I knew we had a good car,” said Jones. “But I didn’t expect to win it. I expected a top-five and to come out with a clean racecar. And then when we won it, well that was just an awesome addition.”
After the race, the New Smyrna Speedway officials inspected the engines on the top-three finishers from the Governor’s Cup and Jones’ McGunegill powerplant passed with flying colors.
“Everyone from McGunegill Engine Performance has done a fantastic job; we certainly could not have won this race without their support,” claimed Jones.
The Paragon Racing team would also like to thank all of its supporters, including Paragon Corvette, Fram/Autolite, Penske Racing Shocks, CG Financial and Simpson Safety Equipment.
As the 2011 season draws to a close for Jones and his Paragon Corvette Reproductions team, they’ve got a great season of progress to look back on.
“We’ve learned so much with the car,” said Jones. “We know how we want it set up and how I want to drive it and it all just came together for this race. Now I wish next year was here already. It hasn’t really set in, it’s hard to believe that we’ve already won a Super Late Model race and it just really tops this year off.”
The plan is for Erik Jones to return to the Pro Late Model wars by competing in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL, on Saturday night December 4th.
“The Snowflake is going to be fun,” said Jones. “We’ve got that all set to go and I think we’ll have a really strong car for that race.”
For more on Erik Jones please contact Matt Kentfield at 51 Sports at Matt@51sports.net, or visit his website at www.erikjonesracing.com.