We’ve seen this happen a bunch over the years in racing. It takes a driver a little while to finally get to victory lane but once he does find his way there, the wins keep coming. Whether it’s their first career victory or maybe one that’s taken a while to get back to, but once they taste the sweet savory meal of victory lane, the wins then start coming in bunches. I mean it took Clint Bowyer 190 races to get back to victory lane this past spring. Once he did win, Bowyer won again 10 races later. Kyle Busch has done that before. He may go a little while between wins then goes on a roll.
Well, the next driver that I feel can do that is Erik Jones. He finally got over the hump last Saturday night at Daytona en route to his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. The win has been a long time coming. Now that he has won, I fully expect the wins to keep piling up in his favor. I mean, he could even win Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in Kentucky for two wins-in-a-row.
“I think the first wins are always huge because — Chris (Gayle) has been a part of this. For any young guy, when you get that first win, it’s just a big deal, and there is, as somebody said here, there’s a lot of pressure up here,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “There’s only 40 guys getting to drive these things, and you’ve got to earn your way when you get a chance. You need to get it done. I think they all know that, so there’s a lot of pressure that goes with this.
“So I think you make a good point. As soon as you get that first win, at least you say, okay, now I’m ready to go. And really he started I’d say a real upswing for us three weeks ago, and I think Chris is right. Road racing, when you have a great finish at a place that you would say is your toughest challenge, I think that really helped, and we’ve had — he’s been in the top 10 since then.”
Jones, finished sixth in last year’s race on the 1.5-mile track and could be in the hunt to finish even better on Saturday night. In NASCAR XFINITY Series competition on the Bluegrass State track, Jones has finishes of second, fourth and third respectively in the summer race and was eighth in the 2015 fall date. Furthermore, Jones enters this weekend with three straight top seven finishes and driving for a manufacturer (Toyota) that has won three straight races on the season and five of the last six.
Need I say more?
I won’t, lets let Jones.
“You know, Kentucky before the repave was one of my favorite places to go,” Jones said of this weekend’s race. “We ran really well in Trucks and Xfinity. I never ran the old surface with the Cup car. But last year getting there, it was just somewhere I was just pretty comfortable. I don’t know, it feels like somewhat similar to the old surface. Obviously a lot faster and smoother, but there’s a lot of things that you do from my seat that are very similar. We had a really good car there last year, and I hope we can continue to stay on that path.
“But really overall just the momentum from this win is going to carry us a long ways. I’m a pretty big believer in that, that when you get that momentum rolling and everybody is on the same page and rolling in the right direction that it’s going to carry you a long ways.
“You look at the 78 and the 4 and the 18 and that’s what they’ve really had going is that momentum. They never stop. They keep it rolling every week. Hopefully we can get that ball rolling in our court, as well.”
Then, next week, it’s to New Hampshire where Jones finished sixth in the playoff race last year. In his lone XFINITY Series start at the Magic Mile, he came home runner-up. In two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, he finished seventh in both. Plus, Toyota’s have won five of the last six races at New Hampshire and his No. 20 Toyota that he’s driving has won three times there since 2012.
After that, it’s on to Pocono where Jones finished third and eighth respectively as a rookie there last season. Toyota has won two of the last three races there too.
See, this stretch could see Jones win again. I wouldn’t be shocked to see that.