Last December, Kyle Busch Motorsports owner Kyle Busch was moonlighting in the prestigious Snowball Derby Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida and finished second. The driver ahead of him at the end was Michigan native Erik Jones, a 16-year-old with 10 ARCA Racing Series races under his belt and numerous Late Model starts. That impressive bit of racing leads Jones to the next stage of his racing career: he’s signed on for a five-race Camping World Truck Series schedule with KBM, driving the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for the first time at Martinsville Speedway on April 6th.
“I’ve been around Erik a few times running late models - he’s a good kid and a good driver, so we’re excited to be adding him to the crop of young talent we’ve assembled at KBM this season,” said Busch on the KBM website. “He did a nice job practicing my late model at Nashville last year for the All-American 400 and then he raced me hard and clean in the closing laps of the Snowball Derby to win that race. Doing those types of things is how you get recognized in this sport.”
In March 2012, Jones became the first 15-year-old ever to compete in the ARCA Racing Series at the Mobile ARCA 200. In 10 ARCA starts last season, he earned five top-10 finishes and led 103 laps. Jones qualified inside the top 10 for every race and posted season-high third-place finishes twice - June 24th at Winchester Speedway and August 11th at Berlin Raceway.
“Kyle is a driver that I have always looked up to and have a lot of respect for, so to be able to make my Truck Series debut in one of his Tundras is something I would have never imagined,” said Jones. “This is definitely the biggest opportunity of my career. I’ve always wanted to drive in NASCAR, so I am really looking forward to getting on the track in Martinsville in a few weeks and being able to evaluate where I stand against the great mix of veterans and young talent that the Truck Series offers.”
A rule change at the end of the 2011 season allows 16 and 17-year-old drivers to compete in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events on tracks that are 1.1-mile or less. Jones will also drive the No. 51 Tundra at Rockingham Speedway on April 14th, both Iowa Speedway races (July 13th and September 8th) and one more race yet to be determined.
Find out more about KBM at www.kylebuschmotorsports.com.
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