Finally, someone competing in the Xfinity Series wins an Xfinity race this year. Full-time Xfinity driver Erik Jones took home the $100,000 check today at Bristol after a crazy four-laps-to-go restart that featured a crazy back-and-forth fight for the top of the podium.
NASCAR’s Xfinity Series is an odd duck. It’s meant as a feeder into the Sprint Cup, but Sprint Cup drivers often compete in Xfinity races—and often win. Some fans see this as punching down by the guys who’ve already made it, but it also gives upcoming talent the chance to compete against some of the drivers they’d like to compete against eventually anyway.
Thus, for an actual real-life Xfinity Series driver to finally win an Xfinity Series race, it’s a pretty big deal. Not only is it something fans always clamor to see, but it’s very impressive to beat some of the top series’ best drivers.
Jones is the first Xfinity Series driver to win a race in the series this year.
Today’s race at Bristol was also the first race of the new Xfinity Dash 4 Cash format, where two heats fed into a final race. A late-race restart went fantastically for Jones, who got around Sprint Cup driver and teammate Kyle Busch for the win.
Busch explained after the race to Motorsport.com that his car just didn’t have any power on the restart:
When I went to the gas on the last two restarts, it just didn’t accelerate. I lost all my acceleration and those guys were just gone. I didn’t even have a chance. Jones cleared me by the time we got to Turn 1 – that’s how bad it was.
Either way, you know Xfinity Series fans out there are loving this. How can we make this happen more often? Maybe they need to offer a $100,000 bonus at every race. Make ‘em thirsty. Alternately, the Xfinity Series could do what the 24 Hours of LeMons does and only briefly mention the overall winner unless it’s from the class of drivers the series cares about (in this case, full-time Xfinity guys). Otherwise, keep the focus on the Xfinity drivers fans want to see.
This win meant far more than just a big check and a sweet trophy for Jones, though. According to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass, Jones’ father had just been diagnosed with cancer, and this was the first win that his parents missed. Jones was understandably emotional on the phone after the race.