P.J. JONES Watkins Glen and Toyota & ...
Watkins Glen and Toyota – Been There, Done That
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Aug. 5, 2008) -- P.J. Jones will drive the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota for Hall of Fame Racing this weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in the Centurion Boats at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
While Jones will be new to DLP HDTV / Hall of Fame Racing, he has plenty of experience driving at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course and driving for a Toyota-powered team.
Jones has seven Sprint Cup starts at The Glen, where he finished fourth in 2002 and eighth in 1993. He also has two NASCAR Nationwide Series starts there, including a ninth-place finish in 2000. In addition to his NASCAR exploits at The Glen, Jones has several starts in International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) competition at the historic road course.
The son of American racing icon Parnelli Jones is also quite familiar with Toyota. If a race car has had a Toyota engine in it, odds are Jones has driven it. In the 1990s, Jones drove for Dan Gurney's All-American Racers, which fielded Toyotas in IMSA's sports prototype series before moving to Champ Car in the later part of the decade. More recently, Jones drove a Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in Sprint Cup events at Sonoma (Calif.) and Watkins Glen.
So while it's a new team for Jones, the Watkins Glen race weekend will have a familiar feel.
P.J. JONES, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
What are your thoughts heading into the Centurion Boats at The Glen?
"I've got a lot of confidence there and I've driven a lot of laps. It's just a place you feel good when you go there. It's one of my favorite race tracks. I think I like it better than I like Sonoma just for the fact that it's a little bit quicker and there seem to be more places to pass. It seems to be a racier race track than Sonoma. Of the two road races we do, I think this is the better of the two. I've enjoyed going there. I've had some success there, so I'm just looking forward to having a good run with the DLP Toyota on Sunday."
You have plenty of experience not only at Watkins Glen, but also with Toyota. Can you talk about that?
"One thing about Toyota, they definitely work very, very hard to be successful on the race track. This year is no different. They've got some wins this year in the Sprint Cup Series and they will work very hard to get you what you want. I'm excited. I'd rather be in a Toyota than any other car."
What are your memories of racing Toyotas for Dan Gurney's All American Racers at Watkins Glen back in the early 1990s?
"I've got some good memories and some bad. Watkins Glen was the race that cost me the (IMSA) championship (in 1993). In the esses, there were a bunch of cars piled up and I stopped at the top of the esses and ended up getting a piece of bodywork from another car wedged under the bottom of my car, and when I put it in reverse, the transmission broke. That was the one race that cost me the championship. On the other hand, we set the all-time track record there on the NASCAR track (with a sports car) and it still holds today. It's a place where we have had a lot of success. We won some races in the Firestone Firehawk Series in a Toyota there too."
What does it take to be good around Watkins Glen?
"I think a guy who's good around Watkins Glen is good with the brakes. You've got to be able to late-brake and also carry a lot of momentum through the center of the corners and get off the corners quick. I think that's the secret to being fast around Watkins Glen."
Is it challenging to go into a race having only one test with a team you are not all that familiar with?
"I don't think it's that big of a deal doing it at Watkins Glen. Last year, I went there with another Toyota team and we were fast right out of the gate and I'd only driven with the team at Sonoma and done one test. I've been doing one-off road races like this for the past few years, and just knowing what I want there, it seems to be a place where we can adapt pretty quickly."