Red Cactus Racing; Eric Jones Blossom In 2004 Busch Debut Kansas City, Kansas - - In one of the most competitive races of the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series season, Red Cactus Racing and driver Eric Jones collected a solid 23rd place finish in...
Red Cactus Racing; Eric Jones Blossom In 2004 Busch Debut
Kansas City, Kansas - - In one of the most competitive races of the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series season, Red Cactus Racing and driver Eric Jones collected a solid 23rd place finish in their 2004 debut last Saturday at Kansas Speedway.
Red Cactus Racing, owned and operated by Quincy, Illinois businessman Dan Griffin made their attack on the secondary series of NASCAR in the 28th event of the season.
In the first practice session leading up to time trials, Jones maneuvered his No. 73 Red Cactus Salsa Chevrolet to the 39th fastest time. Pacing the 1.5 mile-oval in 31.866 seconds, or 169.041 MPH. With no provisonals available, Jones and his rookie team knew they had to "pick it up" heading into qualifying.
"We've got some work to do," said the driver of the No. 74 Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "We're a brand new team and if we don't make the field on time, we'll be headed home. We've worked too hard to let them happen, I'm going to give it my all in qualifying."
54 automobiles attempted to make the Mr. Goodcents 300. Jones maneuvered his machine around the track in 31.832 seconds, transferring to a fast lap of 169.966 MPH, putting him 38th on the starting grid, advancing to the main event.
"Whoa that was close," said the Granger, Iowa native following time trials. "We made some changes to the car before going out on to the track, while it was better, I think we have to do some more twitching heading into the race on Saturday. However, I'm very happy for our Red Cactus Racing team, hopefully we can have a nice finish."
Happy Hour, the final practice session before the Mr. Goodcents 300 saw Jones lock the 39th fastest time. Still battling an ill-handling Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Jones continued to praise his team. "I know we haven't set any world records this weekend, but we have reached every goal we came to do thus far. We're going to make a couple more changes to our car before the drop of the green, hopefully they will be the right ones."
The green flag waived shortly after 2:00pm EST, with Jones quickly finding a comfort level. Hovering in the back group, the driver was looking to find his line around the track and avoid any trouble that may ruin their weekend.
Early on, the former ARCA RE/MAX Series driver reported to his crew chief Buddy Sisco that the car was tight all the way around the track.
During a long span of green flag racing, the former open-wheel sensation would be forced to come to the attention of his crew for some new rubber, more fuel, in toe with another adjustment to strengthen the automobile. Unfortunately, the yellow flag would wave one lap later, trapping Jones another lap off the pace.
A multi-car accident on lap 82 saw Jones spin innocently into the grass, avoiding several of the mangled cars ahead of him.
On the restart, the adjustments seemed to be working, as Jones was posting very competitive lap times in addition to slicing and dicing his way through the field, cracking the top-twenty five at halfway.
A caution approaching the second pit sequence for many of the Busch teams had Jones bring his machine to the attention of his crew, which this weekend would be handled by Team Chick Motorsports, Eric's NCTS team.
Bolting on four Goodyear Eagles, adding Sunoco Racing fuel, and a slight chassis adjustment to the No. 73 before launching him back on the track.
Eric Jones put the hammer down closing in on the end of the race, competing with several of the well-funded teams to cross the finish line 23rd.
"It was a good day for the Red Cactus Racing team," he said. "The car was tight at the beginning of the race, but we kept adjusting on it throughout the day and we were best when it counted the most at the end."
"The track was blocked with cars, and I knew if we spun quietly, we would avoid any of the chaos in front of us, and that's exactly what we did. Besides that hiccup, I was very happy with our team and want to thank Dan, Buddy, and the entire Team Chick Motorsports for their help this weekend, I won't ever forget it."
With thoughts of completing in 14 to 16 NASCAR Busch Series events in 2005, Red Cactus Racing hopes to compete in two more venues this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway followed by the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
"I think our goals will be a little higher for the remainder of our Busch events this season, " continued Eric Jones. "We've proved to everyone we can take a new team and run competitively. Atlanta and Homestead are two terrific facilities, and I hope we can score a top-twenty finish within these next two events."
"As for next season, I think we're going to have a very diverse schedule, but I'm looking forward to it. I know this team has a lot of potential. We're going to purchase some more equipment and we look forward to putting the Red Cactus Racing team in victory lane next season."
Next up for the NASCAR Busch Series is The Spongebob Squarepants Movie 300 from Lowes Motor Speedway this Friday night. TNT and MRN radio will broadcast the event live beginning at 8:00pm EST. XM Radio will also announce the 29th NBS event starting at 7:00pm EST.