O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 XFINITY Series race is quickly becoming the launching pad for NASCAR’s 18-something rising stars.

A year ago, then-18-year-old Chase Elliott earned his first career XFINITY Series victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 and it proved to be a catalyst in his successful march toward the series championship. On Friday night, another 18-year-old served notice that he may be prepared to join Elliott as another teen star for NASCAR.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 from the pole to become the second-youngest driver in any major series to win at Texas Motor Speedway at the age of 18 years, 10 months and 11 days. He also joined Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards as the only drivers to win an XFINITY Series race from the pole in speedway history.

Jones is currently competing full time in the Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports while driving a limited schedule in the XFINTIY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. With his impressive performance at Texas Motor Speedway, team owner Joe Gibbs indicated that an appearance in the Sprint Cup Series could be imminent, especially with the injured Busch still on the mend.

“As far as down the road, there’s no question that at some point very quick he going to be in a Cup car some,” team owner Joe Gibbs said. “I think we have a bit of a strategy there that we talked about. I think he’s ready to go at any time. We’ll just work with that as we go forward.”

Jones’ victory came against competition that resembled a Sprint Cup Series race as he held off runner-up and fellow Michigan native Brad Keselowski, along with the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin. He proved dominant all evening, leading a race-high 79 of the 200 laps.

“It’s surreal,” Jones said. “That confidence is something I never doubted in myself. I’ve always believed in myself as I’ve grown up. Sitting here in Victory Lane at Texas in the XFINITY Series – it’s amazing, just amazing. We beat Cup guys tonight. That’s huge for us, huge for our team. I can’t wait for the rest of the year.”

A win at Texas is just one of the memorable life moments Jones has enjoyed at the 1.5-mile speedway. In his only other appearance coming at last year’s WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 Camping World Truck Series race, Jones was forced to miss his graduation ceremony at Swartz Creek (Mich.) Community Schools. In true Texas fashion, Texas Motor Speedway held a special graduation on the frontstretch stage during pre-race as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage presented Jones, donned in cap and gown, with his high school diploma.

With the win on Friday evening, Texas Motor Speedway once again firmly cemented a place in his budding career. 

“It’s becoming more and more special every day,” Jones said. “Sure enough, it’s going to hold a certain spot for me forever from now on.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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