Less than one week after losing his father to cancer, Erik Jones found himself in victory lane Monday night at the Berlin Raceway in his home state of Michigan. He celebrated an emotional victory in front of friends, family and almost everybody that has ever supported him in his career.
“This means a lot,” Jones told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It’s definitely one I’ll never forget. It’s one of the more special ones I’ve been a part of in my short racing career.”
Jones claimed the Battle at Berlin 251 for the second straight year. One year ago his father, Dave, was there to see it. This year the 20-year-old Jones won the race in his memory.
“It’s an emotional one for a lot of people and I’m pretty happy to be here,” he said. “I wish my dad could have been here too, but I’m very happy to get a win for him this week.”
Dave Jones passed away on Tuesday after a brief battle with cancer. The 20-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series regular was at Berlin the day after. He then ran the Xfinity Series race at the Michigan International Speedway on Saturday where he finished fourth, before coming back to Berlin on Monday to take the win.
Jones said that he and his Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Chris Gabehart had plans in place in case he needed to miss a Xfinity Series race, and he said that the same plans were in place if he felt the need to skip the Battle at Berlin.
“I was pretty confident I would be in the car,” Jones said. “It’s just somewhere I can go and just forget about that a little bit. I feel at home there. That’s my job. That’s my normal life. When I’m in the car that’s where I’m supposed to be and that’s where everything feels right.”
One year ago Jones crashed his primary car in practice and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to run the feature before coming from near the back to win. This year Jones, the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, started third and ran in the top five for much of the race before taking the lead in the final segment.
“This one was a lot easier than the last one,” he said. “It was a lot less work. It’s definitely cool to come back here and get a second win at Berlin. It’s only my second late model win here actually.”
Polesitter Bubba Pollard, Midwest racer Phil Bozell, ARCA/CRA Super Series point leader Cody Coughlin and 2015 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour champion Dalton Armstrong completed the top five.
On-demand lap-by-lap coverage can be found by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage. The Speed51 Network will have a video recap, including an interview with Jones, as well as race highlights later this week.
ARCA/CRA Super Series
Battle at Berlin 251
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI) – Twitter: @Connor51CT