Red Cactus Salsa Racing; Eric Jones Earn Berth in Homestead NASCAR Busch Series Season Finale
Homestead, Florida - - They may only be a rookie team, but they are beginning to impress quickly. The Red Cactus Salsa Racing team owned, and operated by Quincy, Illinois businessman Dan Griffin will start their second NASCAR Busch Series event of the season Saturday afternoon from Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford 300.
After missing the field in Phoenix by one qualifying position, the Red Cactus Salsa Racing team with driver Eric Jones invaded the track this weekend threatening to bounce back from their miscue and prove to the other teams, they shouldn't be taken lightly.
In the first practice session leading up to NASCAR Busch Series qualifying, Jones maneuvered the 1.5 mile-oval to a lap time of 31.745 seconds at 170.106 MPH. The lap placed the rookie team 36th on the speed charts, good enough to race on Saturday afternoon.
"The car is not bad," said the driver of the No. 73 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. "That lap would have been good enough to make the race, we're going to make some minor adjustments to the car with hopes of being in the show on Saturday."
The season finale usually stirs a huge field of entries, and Thursday was no exception. With 53 teams and drivers entered, and no provisonals to fall back on, qualifying on time was a must for the operation.
In time trials, Jones, an open-wheel sensation was the 47th driver to tame the track. Jones picked up the pace considerably from practice, blistering the track in 31.500 second flat or 171.429 MPH, good enough for 34th on the starting grid.
The team exceed their previous qualifying effort of 38th in October at Kansas Speedway occurring in their Busch debut.
"Yeah, we're in the show," said a happy Granger, Iowa native following qualifying. "I promised the team and sponsors after missing the show in Phoenix, we wouldn't miss Homestead, and we didn't. The car was good, we'll look to go faster in Happy Hour on Friday and get ready for the big event on Saturday afternoon."
While happy for himself, Jones was ecstatic for his sponsors. Red Cactus Salsa Racing will serve as the primary sponsor of the black and silver automobile this weekend, but the team also has several associate sponsors plastered on their machine this weekend.
Primetime Cigars, Jeff Schutte Construction, Gotcha Mobile Media, and Ronella Company who will all make their first NASCAR Busch Series event of the season.
"Like I said before, I have great sponsors. They believe in me and this team, I couldn't ask for more. I hope we can go out there the rest of the weekend and run good. This positive start to the weekend really has me looking forward to 2005."
Now in the field, the team will use Happy Hour, the final practice session before the main event to dial in their Red Cactus Salsa Racing Chevrolet for the last event of the 2004 season.
"We finished 23rd at Kansas, I want to beat that," added Eric. "If we can keep our nose clean, follow the veterans and not have any problems, I think we'll easily score a top-twenty finish."
Following Homestead, the team will work fiercely to prepare for their assault on the NASCAR Busch Series tour in 2005. At the present time, the team plans to run 16 NASCAR Busch Series events with the option to expand. Jones, and his team will run a mixture of short tracks and superspeedways in preparation of running for the coveted Busch championship in 2006.
The Ford 300 is the 34th and final event on the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series schedule. The race set to take the green flag Saturday afternoon, November 20th, 2004. NBC will air the event live beginning at 1:00pm EST, with MRN handling the airwaves starting at 12:45pm EST. The race will also be available via XM satellite radio NASCAR channel 144 launching at 12:00pm EST.