By virtue of a late pass, 19-year-old Erik Jones held off Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.
Jones led 62 laps to capture his first victory of the season, and he also took home an additional $100,000 for winning the Dash 4 Cash competition within the race.
Joe Gibbs Racing provided a look at Jones celebrating in Victory Lane after his hard-fought triumph:
Here is a rundown of Saturday's top-10 finishers with full results for all 40 drivers available at NASCAR.com:
|NASCAR Xfinity at Bristol Results|
While the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 was mostly about Jones' impressive comeback, it was also a big day for Daniel Suarez, who extended his lead in the standings to six points with a sixth-place finish.
The following is a look at how the championship chase is playing out early in the Xfinity Series season:
|NASCAR Xfinity Series Standings Following Bristol|
|10||Darrell Wallace Jr.||176||-66||0|
Jones captured the pole Saturday by winning his Dash 4 Cash heat, and he dominated the early going by leading 59 of the first 60 laps.
His run at the front was interrupted for just one lap due to a caution flag brought out by Ryan Ellis, who spun out on the 37th lap, as seen in this video courtesy of NASCAR Xfinity:
After Larson overtook Jones for the lead on lap No. 61, he and Busch went on to trade first and second place for the remainder of the event.
That created some tense and entertaining moments between them, such as this crafty pass by Larson through traffic on the 103rd lap:
Both Busch and Larson are aggressive drivers by nature, so it came as little surprise when they got together and traded some paint along the way, as seen here, via Fox Sports 1:
While Saturday's race was fairly clean with just three caution flags throughout, veteran Derrike Cope offered a bit of a reprieve from the nonstop action when he spun on the 124th lap:
That was short-lived, though, as Busch and Larson continued to battle it out with Larson pulling out all the stops, such as splitting two cars in order to take back the lead:
While Busch and Larson seemed poised to vie for the win until the bitter end, a wrench was thrown into those plans when a caution came out on lap No. 187 due to an accident involving Mario Gosselin.
Larson held the lead when it went back to green with three laps left, but Jones emerged to overtake both Sprint Cup regulars and held them both off to pick up the third Xfinity Series victory of his young career, as seen in this NASCAR video:
Jones is heralded by many as the future of NASCAR, and Saturday showed that the future may not be very far off.
Following his win, many huge names in NASCAR offered congratulations, including Fox analyst Jeff Gordon:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was also impressed with the manner in which Jones closed the race out:
Veteran Matt Kenseth couldn't help but tip his cap to the youngster on Twitter as well:
Jones now has five top-five finishes in seven starts this season, and he has already proved capable of hanging with the very best drivers the sport has to offer.
He may very well be the favorite to win the points title in 2016 after becoming the first Xfinity Series regular to win a race this season.
He still has to track down Suarez, but there is a long campaign ahead, and Jones now has a great deal of momentum on his side.
Jones shocked many by overtaking a pair of Sprint Cup stars to win Saturday's race at Bristol, and while he couldn't fully explain what allowed him to get out in front, he suggested that everything broke in his favor, according to Joe Menzer of FoxSports.com: "I don't know. We got a really good restart there [at the end]. The 18 [of Busch] hadn't been getting going. ... We got a really good restart and Kyle [Larson] just left the top open. We went up there. He worked pretty hard to keep us behind him, but we just kept digging."
Larson restarted as the leader when the race went green with three laps remaining, but he was quickly passed by Jones and lamented his own performance in the latter stages, per Mike Hembree of USA Today: "I did a really bad job on the restart. A really bad job. I know I gave that one away. I'm really disappointed in myself."
Busch had an outlook similar to Larson as he felt he let a golden opportunity to win slip through his fingers, according to Menzer: "It wouldn't go. It just stumbled. ... It's frustrating when you're in position to win and you just give it away."
The victory was a huge one for Jones since it moved him into second in the Xfinity Series standings, but it had even deeper meaning on a personal level, per ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass:
Jones has the talent to be one of the top drivers in all of NASCAR in the very near future, and fans got a firsthand look at that Saturday, as he took on and beat some of the Sprint Cup Series' best.
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