BUSCH: PJ Jones Atlanta preview

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 7, 2001) - Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the longest race on the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series schedule. While it is just three miles further - so it can please the event's sponsor who invested a...

CHARLOTTE, N.C., (March 7, 2001) - Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the longest race on the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series schedule. While it is just three miles further - so it can please the event's sponsor who invested a lot of money in the race - it does pose an interesting question: How long should NASCAR Winston Cup Series and Busch races last?

"Whatever mileage puts on the best show for the fans is what's important to me," said PJ Jones, driver of the #1 Yellow Racing Chevrolet. "I think the Busch races are the perfect length right now. I believe that the fans would prefer a shorter race because most of the excitement for them is in the final 20 laps when drivers are battling for the lead. I think that if they had their choice, they would prefer a 300-mile race as opposed to a 400 or 500-mile event.

"I personally would like to race longer like the Winston Cup guys," added Jones. "I think that would be great. To the drivers, each lap is as exciting as the first. That's because we're driving a 3,300-lb. machine three-wide at 190 mph. If that doesn't do it for you, check your pulse because I think you're dead."

And when it comes to racing three wide at high speeds, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the better backdrops for a high-speed chase. Its extreme lap times and concrete walls are good arguments to let off the throttle, something drivers can't do this Saturday if the want to visit victory lane.

"I'm use to the high-speeds from other racing series," said the second-year Busch driver who has also raced in CART and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "But it's more important to have racing experience in NASCAR. There are a lot of drivers with a ton of miles at Atlanta and that's why they excel at that track. This only being my second Busch race at Atlanta and the first race with the Phoenix Racing Team, I need to focus on a top 10 this Saturday. I will just be patient and work hard in practice so we can set the race car up to fit the track as best we can."

"The aero-package is a big part of the race setup," added Jones about the 1.54-mile oval. "In qualifying, you are wide-open. Your foot better not come off the floorboard if you want to stay competitive. You need to focus on your line and maintain a high-level of concentration because it's one of the fastest tracks on the schedule. You have to be precise and hit your marks every time . or it's going to hurt."

The "Yes We Can" slogan is a statement that Yellow takes very seriously, and it's a safe bet that PJ Jones and the #1 Yellow Racing Team used that very same motto to post a 27th place finish in Saturday's Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Jones battled a tight race car in the early stages of the 300-mile race that dropped the Yellow Racing Team from its 23rd place starting spot to the 38th position after just 42 laps - enter the team's "Yes We Can" attitude. In an attempt to jump-start the #1 race team, car chief Johnny Allen called Jones onto pit road to loosen up the race car with an air pressure and track bar adjustment.

The minor modifications worked as Jones returned to the track with a competitive race car. With a lot of ground to make up and a short time to accomplish it, Jones worked his way past 11 drivers before the checkered flag.

"Marc, Johnny and the boys kept working on the #1 Yellow Racing Chevy throughout the day," continued Jones. "If it wasn't for the tremendous amount of pride in this group of guys, we would have finished dead last. Instead, we battled back and ended up passing a lot of machines in the field. We made the best out of a bad situation today and that's what makes a good team."

-YMR

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Teams Phoenix Racing