Buckshot Jones: Tough Keeping Up in Cup

Jones: Tough keeping up in Cup By Brett Borden SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Feb. 23, 1999) For NASCAR Winston Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Buckshot Jones, finding the missing miles per hour that will get him into his first race in...

Jones: Tough keeping up in Cup By Brett Borden

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Feb. 23, 1999) For NASCAR Winston Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Buckshot Jones, finding the missing miles per hour that will get him into his first race in 1999 has been a challenge, to say the least.

Jones came to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series equipped with degrees from both the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and the "School of Hard Knocks" earned in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series and NASCAR Touring Divisions. But it has been Jones who has been knocked around in his first two attempts at qualifying -- failing to make the field at both Daytona International Speedway and North Carolina Speedway.

Jones' father, team owner Billy Jones, says the team has really struggled in its transition from the garage it occupied last season (NASCAR Busch Series) to the one it has tried to occupy this year (NASCAR Winston Cup Series).

"You got any suggestions?" asked the elder Jones. "It's like having a horrible sickness. You're just trying to find a way to overcome it. I'm very surprised we didn't make Daytona, and I'm also very surprised we didn't make Rockingham."

He probably would have said he was shocked, but shocks and aerodynamics are sore subjects around the Jones camp right now.

"The team just hasn't adjusted to the difference between the Busch Series and Winston Cup," he said. "In the Busch Series, shocks aren't that big a deal. In Winston Cup, you can do a lot more things with them. And aerodynamics has thrown them for a loop. The team has just been trying to catch up on stuff they were behind on.

"We've got great motors, and great cars. It's simply a 10th (of a second) here, then a 10th there, but all those 10ths add up. All our guys come from Busch. In the Busch Series you don't have hood latches over your hood. We overlooked things like that."

It's a situation that could require someone with NASCAR Winston Cup Series experience to look over things for the team. Jones believes they can pull themselves out of it, they just need to know in which direction to pull.

"We're like in a fire," he said. "We're fighting the fire so much, we don't have enough time to step away and look at what we're trying.

"We'll go to (Las) Vegas, then come to Atlanta, and if we still haven't made a race we're talking about outside help. We've already talked to Hendrick's organization. We're getting help from their shock department, help from their aero department. The question is do we hire someone on a consultant basis as opposed to hiring someone on a full-time basis?"

Buckshot Racing already receives its engines from Hendrick Motorsports, so the basis is there to expand that relationship.

Jones did well at both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway last season, but that was in the NASCAR Busch Series. Jones started fourth at Las Vegas, then finished eighth. Then he started 14th at Atlanta and finished fifth. Jones' NASCAR Winston Cup Series team has done no testing at either track, so the driver's experience could be crucial if the team is to make either race.

Jones had a couple decent outings in his initial NASCAR Winston Cup Series forays last season -- including an eighth-place effort in his debut at Dover, Del. But that was accomplished with Stavola Brothers Racing, an experienced team.

"I think if we can get in the race we'll be OK," said the elder Jones. "It's just that when you're comparing Busch and Cup, the driver translates, but setting up the car doesn't translate. (In the past) Buckshot has been the minus on the race team. But today Buckshot is a little ahead of the team. Where Buckshot used to play catch-up, the team is playing catch-up now."

They have two weeks to catch up to the competition, with the Las Vegas 400 coming on March 7.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Buckshot Jones
Teams Hendrick Motorsports