Erik Jones wins at Daytona in overtime for first career victory
Erik Jones won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway in a second overtime attempt, claiming his first Cup Series win.
Jones, 22, beat Martin Truex Jr, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Chris Buescher in a two-lap shootout.
The win comes in the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s 57th career start.
On the final restart, Jones started second on the outside of Truex, his former teammate at Furniture Row Racing.
“Oh boy, how ‘bout that race boys and girls?” Jones asked the crowd while being interviewed at the start-finish line by NBC. “That was something else, man. I thought we were out of it and all of a sudden we were right back in it, take the lead and ran away. Wow, what an awesome race. ... My first Cup win, my first win at Daytona, my first superspeedway win. What an awesome day, man.”
Jones had been caught up in a six-car wreck on Lap 65 in Stage 2. By the end of the race, he was the only JGR driver left. He led only the final lap.
“I was thinking about mom and dad after the checkered,” Jones said of Carol and Dave Jones. Dave Jones passed away in 2016.
“My mom stayed home from this one, she’s going to miss my first Cup win, so hi, mom,” Jones said. “My dad, he would have been so proud the work we did to get here.”
Jones is the youngest driver to win this season and just the seventh different winner in 18 races.
The overtime period was initially set up by a wreck with four laps to go in the original 160-lap distance involving Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Gase.
The first overtime restart saw a crash right before the start-finish line the involved Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Bubba Wallace, Johnson, Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ross Chastain, Brendan Gaughan and Ryan Newman.
The race ended after 168 laps.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
STAGE 2 WINNER: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Martin Truex Jr. earned his first top 10 at a restrictor-plate race since coming in second in the Daytona 500 in 2016 ... Kasey Kahne earned Leavine Family Racing its second top five ever. The first came in this race last year ... Matt DiBenedetto finished seventh for his first top 10 of the season and his fourth in 122 career starts .. Jeffrey Earnhardt (11th) and DJ Kennington (13) earned their career-best finishes.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: The race was marred by two large wrecks in Stage 2, with the first on Lap 54 involving 26 cars and eliminating pole-sitter Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and other contenders ... Ten laps later a six-car wreck eliminated Kyle Busch and William Byron ... After winning the first two stages, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was involved in four accidents, the 26-car crash, an incident with Kyle Larson with 37 laps to go, a single-car spin with 11 laps to go and the wreck on the first overtime restart.
NOTABLE: Erik Jones is the 19th driver to get his first career win at Daytona, which leads all tracks ... In three of the last four Daytona races, the winner led only the last lap ... Jones is the fifth driver to earn his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Always good to see a first-time winner, now maybe (International Speedway Corp.) and those guys can be a little bit happier about things.” - Martin Truex Jr. referencing comments made earlier this week by ISC President John Saunders about young drivers needing to win.
WHAT’S NEXT: Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 14 on NBCSN.
I’m proud of you @erik_jones. I knew the day I met you and then when you beat me at the snowball derby that you had so much talent. You’ve had to overcome a lot these past few years but you are a fighter. I’m proud of you and know your Dad is up there celebrating! 🍻 pic.twitter.com/DduSazOaeW— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) July 8, 2018