WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Brandon Jones only led one lap, but it was the most important lap all night.
In his fourth ARCA Menards Series race of the season, Jones survived a hectic one-lap shootout to win Friday’s General Tire Delivers 100 at Watkins Glen International.
With the win, Jones notched his first career stock car victory on a road course.
“We had really good speed,” Jones said. “We just did a good job there of watching where [others] were a little bit faster and made some really good calls there to try and put a little more grip in our Toyota Camry.”
Jones had speed early on but could never find his way to the lead. Sammy Smith won the pole and jumped out to a massive lead in the early going. But, Taylor Gray, who won the last road course race at Mid-Ohio, progressively got better throughout the night.
On a restart with four laps to go, Smith led over Gray but surrendered it in Turn 7 just moments before a caution for a stalled car.
Instead of a green-white-checkered, ARCA does “overtime” in the format of a one-lap dash. On the restart for the final lap, Smith and Gray made contact in Turn 1 and the seas parted for Jones, who went on to cross the line first.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily me playing head games, but I’m going to go with that,” Jones said. “I expected a little bit of contact between [Smith and Gray], and that’s what I was banking on winning the race — those two just getting together.”
Jones won his third ARCA race of the season. He’s in the midst of a five-race slate to help him in the Xfinity Series.
With five races remaining in the Xfinity regular season, Jones sits seventh with a victory at Martinsville. He hopes his success in ARCA will translate over to more Xfinity victories.
“A great racecar driver is going to run in anything he can get in,” Jones said. “If you were to show up and race on a Saturday, during the week, you’re running maybe once on the simulator. Now, it’s how can you stay in the game longer throughout the week and how do you keep your mind thinking ahead.”
Nick Sanchez finished the race in second after a quiet, unassuming night for Rev Racing. He also maintained the points lead. Jesse Love Jr. placed third for Venturini Motorsports.
Next For Jones
Jones will drive Saturday’s Sunoco Go Rewards 200 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for his usual No. 19 team. He snapped a streak of four finishes outside the top 10 after placing fourth at Michigan two weeks ago.
“This has always proven, me coming to run these ARCA races, it’s always kind of changed the way we race the Xfinity race,” Jones said. “[We just] show up that day with more confidence, more aggression. There’s a lot of things today that we learned as far as where the passing zones are [and] kind of where the braking zones are, too.
“I know this ARCA car is a little bit different than the Xfinity car, but all that stuff really translated pretty well.”