(Spartanburg, S.C.)--- For Buckshot Jones it's been a love / hate relationship when it comes to the fall races at Darlington Raceway. As much as the local South Carolina driver respects the race track and enjoys competing there, the track "Too ...
(Spartanburg, S.C.)--- For Buckshot Jones it's been a love / hate relationship when it comes to the fall races at Darlington Raceway. As much as the local South Carolina driver respects the race track and enjoys competing there, the track "Too Tough To Tame" has been a big challenge for Jones.
Jones hopes this year's Dura-Lube 200 will be the turning point in the Darlington saga. The first trip to Darlington for Jones came in September 1995 and the experience was shot, but memorable for Jones.
"I just remember how intimidating the track was to me at the time," explained Jones. "I had never raced anywhere in which you run so fast, so close to the wall for the entire race. I'm sure there are times that you can't fit even fit a piece of paper between the wall and your car. That's how close it seems."
After qualifying 36th, the engine blew just one lap into the race and Jones went on to finish 41st during his first race at Darlington. In eight career starts including the spring races, Jones has only managed to post one top-10 finish. The top-10 finish in March 1997 came after NASCAR Legend David Pearson gave Jones some one-on-one tutoring. During a test session at Darlington, Pearson ushered Jones around the track in a passenger van, fast and close to the wall.
"I was a little bit scared, but I knew David had it under control," Jones said. "He gave me instructions on what I was doing right and wrong. It must have helped because when we back to race there in March 1997 we finished sixth, our best run ever."
With some confidence tucked away under his belt, Jones went to the second race at Darlington that year looking for good things. As fate would have it, Jones was involved in another early race accident that sent the No. 00 behind the wall for repairs and sent Jones and the Buckshot Racing team home with a disappointing 32nd- place finish.
"It's been a little bit of a struggle for use there in the fall," Jones said. "We're not going to give up, we'll probably just try a little bit harder."
The 1998 race yielded yet another tough day for Jones after getting caught up in another accident and finishing 42nd. With a strong qualifying effort of third, Jones completed all 147 laps before finishing 11th last year, despite losing communication with his spotter during the race.
"You really don't want to lose contact with your spotter anywhere, especially at Darlington," Jones said. "When you're running right up against the wall at the top of the banking, there's no way you can see a car moving underneath you."
Last year's race may almost have seemed like a moral victory for Jones and the Buckshot Racing team, but no one is completely satisfied.
"We're determined to improve upon last year's finish," explained Jones. There's plenty of room for improvement and there's no better time than the present to accomplish it."