Jul 15, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
After winning last weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway, 18-year-old Erik Jones is hoping to keep the momentum going this Saturday in his Nationwide Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway.
But Jones also acknowledges that Saturday’s EnjoyIllinois.com 300 is going to be a “pretty big step” up for him.
“At first, I’m just going to be looking to make laps and get to the end of the race and hopefully running up in the top 10,” Jones said today in a NASCAR teleconference.
“At the end of the day, we’re all race car drivers and we all want to go for the win. I think we’ll be challenging hard to do all we can to run up front and contend, and at the end of the day, I hope we’ll be up there.
“I know we’ve got great equipment and a great team. I’m pretty excited to see what it’s all going to bring.”
Saturday’s race is the first of three Nationwide races this season for Jones in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He’ll also run it at Bristol in August and at Phoenix in November.
JGR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth has made the bulk of the starts in the No. 20 Nationwide machine this year (five Top-5s and nine Top-10s in 11 starts). It’s a solid ride, which will raise expectations a bit for Jones.
But it’s not like he isn’t used to that. The No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra that he drives part-time in the Truck Series (and won with last weekend in Iowa) won the 2013 owner’s championship. This season, Busch himself has won all five of his Truck Series starts in the No. 51.
But for this weekend, Jones will seek to learn everything he can from his JGR veteran teammates about dealing with the challenges of Chicagoland, which are quite different from the ones that he’s encountered on the short tracks.
“All my background is short track racing,” Jones said. “I haven’t had a lot of experience with racing on a mile-and-a-half with how the air works and all that. But definitely, my mindset is open to just trying to take advice from my teammates.
“I’ve got two great teammates there in Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish that will be there, so definitely going to lean on them a lot and hopefully get a lot of information out of them as to what they do on these tracks and how they race and just try to learn from them.
“They’ve obviously done it a lot longer than I have, and just hopefully I can learn a lot from them and go into the race and learn a lot and come out a better driver than I was.”
May 5, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
Without a full-time ride for this season, Justin Wilson is happy to be back in a race car and to have a ride for at least the next two races.
May 5, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT
Helio Castroneves hopes to enjoy the appetizer this weekend and then sink his teeth into the main course two weeks later.
May 5, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
AJ Foyt’s No. 48 Honda-powered Dallara will have history written all over it in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
May 5, 2015, 2:03 PM EDT
At a time when many people would be embracing retirement, legendary NHRA drag racer John Force just keeps motoring along.
May 4, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT
Road America invests millions into some track upgrades for 2015.
May 4, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
Nastia Liukin named grand marshal for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
May 4, 2015, 1:33 PM EDT
Videos from the debut of the new Ligier JS P2 Hondas for Tequila Patron ESM at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.
May 4, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
Mann gets back to work behind the wheel and has a very good first day of running at IMS.
May 4, 2015, 11:35 AM EDT
Early days yet, but seems as though Andretti Autosport is starting the month of May out on the right foot.
May 4, 2015, 11:24 AM EDT
The No. 90 Corvette DP pairing ends on top in Monterey.
May 3, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT
Day one of the month of May is in the books at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
May 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Could we see the Iranian Grand Prix join the F1 calendar in years to come?
May 3, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Lotus technical director Nick Chester expresses his confidence in the upcoming upgrade package for the E23 Hybrid car.
May 3, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT
A run through of new driver firesuits and liveries thus far on the first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500.
May 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Ex-Force India driver di Resta picks up his first podium finish since returning to DTM in 2014.
May 3, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Indianapolis 500 practice is officially underway.
May 3, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Spanish rider wins on home soil as Valentino Rossi scores his 200th podium finish.
May 3, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT
Conor Daly’s “Fueled by Bacon” No. 43 Smithfield Foods Honda is revealed.
May 3, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
The no. 19 crew fights back at Spa to finish sixth overall after six hours of racing.
May 3, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Venezuelan driver returns to the site of his only grand prix victory next weekend.
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