Jones, Ruston and Custer on NASCAR K&N podium at Iowa
Brandon Jones takes his first win in the series.
Brandon Jones kept the trend of new winners at Iowa Speedway going. The 17-year-old driver from Atlanta, Georgia, picked up his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series win Friday night in the Autolite Iridium XP 150. He is the 11th different winner in 11 meetings at Iowa between the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West. Second was Kenzie Ruston and third was Cole Custer (in photo above from a previous event).
Jones joins a list of drivers which includes Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Corey LaJoie who won at Iowa during their rise up the NASCAR ranks.
"That was pretty crazy, the last few laps there,” said Jones. "These cars are so hard to win in and it was extremely hard to pass all night, I felt. So to get a win on one of the bigger tracks is pretty cool.”
It was Jones' 20th career K&N Pro Series start. His 2014season already included a third-place run in the K&N Pro Series East opener at New Smyrna (Florida) Speedway and a runner-up at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. He was also in contention for the win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his last-lap attempt to pass for the lead also collected Nick Drake and opened the door for Jesse Little to grab the victory.
This time, Jones was the leader in the closing laps and his No. 33 Wolfpack Energy Services Chevrolet was able to hold off a late charge from Kenzie Ruston.
“I thought we were a little bit better than Brandon was, catching up to him a bit there at the end,” said Ruston about her late-race push for the lead. “We were there and I feel like all we’ve done is improve. I feel like a win is coming soon.”
Ruston, who started the race from the 16th position, eclipsed her own mark of third-place -- which she did twice, most recently at Virginia's Langley Speedway earlier this year -- as the highest finishing female in series history.
Custer leads 65 laps
Defending race winner Cole Custer led 65 of 150 laps on the night. After taking the lead on Lap 76, he was poised to become the first repeat winner at Iowa Speedway, at times opening up leads of more than several car lengths on the rest of the field. A caution on Lap 130 and subsequent restart helped open the door for the rest of the field, with the NASCAR Next driver eventually ceding the lead and settling for a third-place finish.
“I drove a bit too deep in those final laps and got too loose,” said Custer. “We lost four spots and ended up finishing third, but I think we could have won.”
Rev Racing and NASCAR Drive for Diversity's Sergio Pena scored his second consecutive top-five finish, crossing the line fourth, followed by Jones' Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Scott Heckert in fifth.
Eddie McDonald, Ben Rhodes, Kaz Grala, Greg Pursley and David Mayhew rounded out the top 10.
Rhodes, the K&N Pro Series East championship points leader, was among four cars leading the field who came down pit road one lap early at the mid-race break and had to restart the race at the tail of the field. That also included 21 Means 21 Pole Award winner Jesse Little, Brodie Kostecki and Kyle Benjamin.
Little finished 12th, Kostecki 15th and Benjamin 17th. Rhodes did extend his points lead to 71 over Cameron Hayley, and he is 79 ahead of Jones and Gaulding.
Pursley, as the highest finished West driver, was credited with a victory for the K&N Pro West. He also added to his championship points lead, which is now 34 over Dylan Lupton (27th) and 42 over Brandon McReynolds (14th).
The race was slowed by four cautions for 24 laps and had six lead changes involving six drivers.
The Autolite Iridium XP 150 will air on FOX Sports 1 on Friday, Aug. 8 at 11 a.m.
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