JONES GOES BACK-TO-BACK WITH ANOTHER KANSAS VICTORY
Brandon Jones drives through the field on the final restart to claim the win
KANSAS CITY (July 25, 2020) – Brandon Jones earned his second consecutive victory at Kansas Speedway as he drove to the win on the final restart in the Kansas Lottery 250. It is Jones’ second victory of the season and third win of his career. It was Toyota’s fifth victory of the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season. Jones’ Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates Harrison Burton (third) and Riley Herbst (ninth) also scored top-10 finishes.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS)
Race 17 of 33 – 250.5 miles, 167 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, BRANDON JONES
2nd, Austin Cindric*
3rd, HARRISON BURTON*
4th, Ryan Sieg*
5th, Ross Chastain*
9th, RILEY HERBST
16th, COLIN GARRETT
19th, TIMMY HILL
26th, MATT MILLS
29th, CHAD FINCHUM
32nd, JA JUNIOR AVILA
37th, STEPHEN LEICHT
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Menards/Swiffer Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
Where did you come from on that final restart?
“We’re never out of this thing, that’s what I love about these guys. We keep our head in the game, we don’t get excited during these races. We continue to make changes. My feedback I think was pretty good. It’s been a long two days, I feel exhausted and obviously the heat is big here. Looking forward to celebrating with these guys and it feels great to be back in victory lane.”
What does this do for your race team moving forward?
“This just shows that we’ve still been running good. Every time we haven’t finished a race or something has happened, we’ve been taken out or we’ve had mechanical failure. Just goes to show the speed. Menards/Swiffer Supra, this is just great.”
What got you out front on that final restart?
“Just in position there. I didn’t think the bottom was going to roll like it did. The top was pretty dominant all day. Just kind of depended on how your balance was and it really fired off the best we have all day. It was a group effort there, it wasn’t just me right there. It was an adjustment made and I think it really shows that we continue to make speed and keep our heads in the game.”
What kind of adjustments did you and the team make today?
“I think a lot of it is aerodynamics. You get behind a guy and you really lose a lot of momentum. Really just put grip in the car and that was the main thing. We were really sliding around all day and when we got some grip in the thing, we took off pretty good.”
How much does this help your momentum?
“This helps so much. We started so strong and really were strong in the middle-half too and just have had some stuff happen to us that shouldn’t have and I think we would have had a lot more of these by now if the other stuff hadn’t happened.”
Would you have taken the chance for the pass at the end if you didn’t already have a win this season?
“No, not necessarily. I knew trying to get as much as I could on these restarts is going to be so big. I think you just take the opportunity to make anything of it. You want to try to win every race that you’re in. I personally had no clue that was going to be as strong as it was. When I got to turn one, I had so much grip and I think that myself and Jeff Meendering (crew chief) did a really good job of communicating on what the car really needed to have some speed. That’s kind of what we saw there at the end I think.”
Was there a point in the final lap that you were shocked to be leading?
“I was pretty surprised. Me and the 22 (Austin Cindric) have had our ups and downs this year a little bit. He ran me really clean. He ran me hard, which you’re supposed to and that was the exact way to race right there. I was a little worried with him on my right rear, but it all worked out in the end.”
How difficult has it been to run three races with recovery in between?
“Pretty brutal, I don’t know any other way to put it. I ran the race yesterday too and I’ve never done a tripleheader like this before. This was pretty hard on the body. I tried to go get an IV and the doctor yesterday wanted me to do it naturally so that was a challenge. Trying to put that much water down after you just lost it after a truck race was tough. There was a lot that went into it. I did absolutely no caffeine coming into it this week and just trying to maximize as much water as I could in my body. I feel pretty fine now. I was definitely hurting at the end. I was getting to the point of my face throbbing and feeling pretty sore. I don’t know, I kept in the game. When you’re in the car, you forget about that stuff and then when you get out, you really realize how bad it is.”
Did you strategize where you might be able to go on that restart?
“You kind of have to look ahead on that. You have to see what lane is taking off better and really, really quick. You have to figure that out fast. Then you’re listening to the spotter the whole time. You’re trying to listen to see if you have a quick gap to move up to the top. For me, I thought the middle to the top was probably my dominant two lanes of the day so I was listening to that the whole time and just trying to go where they’re not. That was the biggest thing. They all wanted the bottom and that’s great when I see that because that means they’re going to get bottled up pretty bad. All that stuff you have to kind of look at when you get a restart late in the race.”
How rewarding is this win after the stretch of four consecutive DNFs?
“It’s rewarding, but in my eyes not really surprising. When we’ve had all this stuff go down and happen these last four races, I’ve felt that we’ve been running good. We’ve been running top-five and we’ve had every single race, lap times to compete to win the race. It’s just putting them together, staying out of the incidents and having decent days on pit road. All that stuff eventually adds up and if you can capitalize on everything then you have a shot at it at the end.”
How gratifying is it to get this win with Jeff Meendering and be a driver that deserves to be considered a contender for the championship?
“It kind of makes me laugh when people are so shocked that we win the race. We’ve had speed every single race this year. To be honest, in the past we’ve had so much speed too. It’s closing these things out and optimizing the little things. The cool thing about winning with this group is we’re not just work colleagues, we’re best friends. This whole team is a brotherhood. We all have each other’s back and no one questions anything that anybody does. I feel like when one person isn’t able to do something, the next guy steps up automatically and no one questions it. We’re a really strong group and a really strong team. I kind of praise my guys on that and that’s what I like to do.”
Is Kansas Speedway a special track for you?
“I don’t come here thinking this is my all-time favorite race track. I definitely like running here. I felt that today we had at times the car to lead the race, but just kind of struggled to get going a couple times. In that sense we weren’t able to do it. It’s come down to these last restarts like this, both of these races. I think it really shows how strong we can be on these restarts because those races that we’ve won here have come down to these restarts.”
What is contributing to the recent string of wins?
“A lot of things. Start out with your preparation and working out extremely hard. Watching all the videos before the race of previous events at the race track. Asking around on our Cup guys, asking our Xfinity guys and then when you get to the track, you have to have the confidence. I think at the same time we’ve been doing a great job of really getting our cars dialed in and getting them really comfortable so that I’m able to drive them pretty well too. There’s a bunch of stuff that contributes to getting to this point in your career.”
Is your confidence level higher now than in years past?
“My confidence level is higher in moves that I just made today. Making those big restart moves like that, not being afraid to put it on guys doors and racing really hard – all that stuff, I think that’s where the confidence is a little better.”
HARRISON BURTON, No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How frustrating is this finish?
“I thought we had them. I learned a lot watching Denny Hamlin in the Cup Series and Kevin Harvick and those guys that win the race by thinking. I showed the 22 (Austin Cindric) the fast lane and I knew it burned tires up so I stopped running it and I thought that was got me there at the end was that I saved my tires and kind of tricked him into burning his up. That’s tough because I’m so proud of our race team and our race car. It just sucks. Our team deserves to win and I should have won the race on that restart anyway. I have to find a way to do that anyway. Just frustrated.”
What happened on the final restart?
“It’s frustrating. I feel like our team did everything right. I learned a lot listening to Denny Hamlin about what he tries to do mentally and try on the radio and I learned a lot from him. Tried to use some of that on Austin (Cindric) and showed him the fast line, I thought. I knew it was going to wear out our tires so I got rolling and passed him and then I just messed up on the last restart. We were in a bad situation behind the 39 (Ryan Sieg), but I need to do better to be able to take advantage of that situation and still go and win. We saw Brandon (Jones) come from a few rows back. That’s something I have to work on I guess. Really proud of our speed, but just not enough.”
What was the initial reaction to that final caution coming out?
“Yeah, I want to say I’m really proud of my DEX Imaging Toyota team. They gave me a really good Supra. I’m really happy with how we ran. Obviously, not happy with how we finished. When that caution comes out, you are devastated, because now there are so many more variables. For example, pit road, who stays out on old tires, things like that, that you can’t really control as a driver. It kind of takes the race out of your hands and puts it in – I guess – lady luck, or your team as a whole, your execution, things like that, so obviously, I was frustrated when it came out. As a driver, you can’t really dwell on that, you’ve got to get going, and get your head right for pit road – trying to hit all your marks on pit road, and then after that, focus on the restart. My reaction at first was frustration because I didn’t see the debris, and I thought he just hit the wall, and then when I went around I saw that there was a lot of debris on the straightaway.”
Two top-five finishes after a bit of a rough stretch. What do these runs do for the confidence for the team going forward?
“Well, it’s kind of a mixed deal, because we know that we can do it. Even the races where we haven’t finished good, pretty much all of them we have run well. Even Indy, which I thought was going to be one of my weak spots. We were running fifth, and had to pit with a mechanical deal. It was just a bunch of things that kind of stacked up on us that kind of snowballed. We lost that momentum, but I knew we had the speed. At Pocono when we crashed in oil, I think we were one of the best cars there. Texas, I thought we were the second-best car, here, I thought we were the best car. So, we have had speed. That’s the hardest thing to get in racing – raw speed. Once you get that, it’s about execution. In those weeks where it didn’t happen, I never lost hope that we were going to be in situation where we would be good because I knew we had speed.”
How do you leave Kansas?
“I’m frustrated, but motivated. I think that is such a fun feeling – passing for the lead, watching the 22 (Austin Cindric) get smaller in my rearview mirror after how fast he has been recently. That was obviously a big plus, but I’m definitely motivated to get better. I feel like even though I was in a tough situation behind a car on old tires, I made a mistake. I should have put him three-wide as soon as we got to the line. I pushed him too hard, and I kind of hurt myself. I just have to watch that back and get better on restarts. We weren’t in the best position, but neither was the 19 (Brandon Jones) and he won the race. There’s obviously things we did right, and things that I did wrong as a driver. You got to take that and learn from it. That will hopefully come in play down the line.”
What were you able to find on that long green run to run down Austin Cindric?
“It was really, really fun. I’ve been really paying attention to guys like (Kevin) Harvick. (inaudible) I found a line that made up a lot of speed by cutting off the race track, but it was really hard on the front tires. I showed that to Austin, and he did a great job of defending me in the second stage to get that stage win by using that against me. He knew it was fast, and I knew that he was going to use it, but he didn’t know it was going to burn up the front tires off like I did. I think that I kind of used it early and then stopped using it and wanted to leave Austin out there trying to make that line work and eventually it was going to hurt his tires and I think that’s what happened. I think Austin was really, really fast, and then all of a sudden, it went like a light switch and we were two-tenths faster a lap. That was such a gratifying feeling, because I have been working so hard on trying to get to that level of the sport where you are thinking while you are driving as hard as you can. I was really proud of that, but obviously, it wasn’t enough.”
Does it make you happy to see your teammate win?
“Absolutely. Yeah, if I can’t win, I would rather have Riley (Herbst) or Brandon (Jones) win. That’s for sure. Those are the guys I’m always leaning on, and they are leaning on me. We are getting better as a team together. Brandon has been in a lot of circumstances that are not really his fault. He’s done a good job recognizing that and not getting too down in the dumps, and today, he didn’t necessarily have the fastest car but he made it work. That’s something that is really cool as a driver, and it’s something that he should be proud of. It’s a good win for the team.”
You are headed to a couple of road courses that you have no experience on. What do you do to prepare for them?
“I’ve already been working. I used a lot of my Kansas simulator time to work on my road course like Road America and Daytona. Our TRD simulator was really good for Indianapolis. I think all of our teammates fired off really well there. We knew what was where on the track, and I was able to make pretty decent speed. I expect to run top-five there. There is no reason that we can’t. I’ve got a great race team. I have a lot of confidence in myself and hopefully, we can go out and run well. There’s a lot of guys like Austin (Cindric) that have a lot of road course experience that will be tough to overcome, especially my first time there with no practice, but I’m excited for the challenge.”
Were you surprised with how much speed Brandon Jones had on that last restart?
“Not necessarily. I knew that we were going to be really slow because I got loose, and I think Ross (Chastain) was in front of me. He slid up right in front of me, and I was sideways hitting his bumper, and we all kind of stacked up on each other and slowed us down. Then Brandon did a good job of taking advantage of that. I knew I was going to be in trouble from behind. I knew the cars behind me were going to have a good run. I was just fighting to gain more spots. We gained two spots on the restart, so fair enough, that’s alright. It was a really great restart from Brandon to go and take the win like that.”
RILEY HERBST, No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 9th
A top-10 finish today at Kansas. How was your race?
“I think we probably should have run – we probably had a third-place car. We ran sixth-to-eighth all-day. Just didn’t capitalize on green-white-checkered there. I just got used up a little bit by experience and fell back to ninth. I’m pretty disappointed. But all-in-all, we had a pretty fast Monster Supra. Just didn’t capitalize.”
It has been several races in a row for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and now you get a weekend off. How can you use that to prepare for the run to the Playoffs?
“Just kind of study some more, try to get better. Relax a little bit, we have been going pretty hard. It will be nice to have a week off, but I will be ready to get back at it in Road America.”
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