Sears Point: PJ Jones race report

Sonoma, CA (June 27, 2004) PJ Jones finished 39th Sunday in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Driving for Arnold Motorsports, Jones' day started well, moving up five positions on the race's first lap to 26th....

Sonoma, CA (June 27, 2004) PJ Jones finished 39th Sunday in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Driving for Arnold Motorsports, Jones' day started well, moving up five positions on the race's first lap to 26th. He added another two positions to 24th before his Bennett Lane Winery Dodge was collected in the smoke of a turn two accident, effectively ruining his chances on the day.

The accident started ahead of Jones on lap 6 when Sterling Marlin spun creating a logjam and enormous smoke cloud. The smoke was so bad, Jones simply could not see ahead damaging the front of his Dodge when he hit a car in front of him trying to slow down. "I really didn't have a chance there, the smoke was everywhere and I had cars on both sides so I knew if I turned anywhere I'd hit someone for sure," said Jones. "The best I could do was try to stop and hope nothing would appear, but it did."

The damage to the car was significant enough to completely change the car's ability to get through the quicker sections of the track that require downforce. The hood was caved in just above the grill creating a scoop for air. It wasn't until ten laps later that the team could attempt to fix the damage under caution. But even after the crew's repair, the car was still ailing aerodynamically and Jones' lap times suffered as a result.

"That damage really hurt us. Not only did it take away track position, but the repairs we were able to make couldn't get the car where it needed to be. At the start the car was really good and we were moving up and I thought we had the beginnings of a good day. But you just never know what lies ahead, especially at a place like Infineon. It's a shame and I feel for Bennett Lane because we all wanted to give them a good show," added Jones.

Despite the setbacks, Jones continued to soldier through the day, running as high as 5th-place and looking to potentially pull a top-20 finish out of the day. On lap 71, however, Jones Dodge lost the rear end gear and he was forced to retire.

"Like I said, it's a bummer for everyone here to end the way we did, "said Jones. "But you just can't control the things we experienced out there early on with the incident and damage to the car. Through the weekend we really made our car fast and improved every practice to the point where we were in the game and going forward in the race. It would have been nice to cap it off and be able to see how high we could have finished."

-am-

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Sterling Marlin