FONTANA, CaliforniaVeteran NASCAR campaigner P.J. Jones brought home his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge with a solid 14th place finish Saturday Night in the American Wheels 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at California Speedway. Jones' Ultra Motorsports teammate Ted Musgrave finished a strong second to Todd Bodine, narrowly missing a fourth consecutive win in Fontana. It was Jones' first NCTS start since his 9th place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway last fall in an Ultra Motorsports Dodge. Jones can clearly see that change has taken place in the NCTS garage.
"Most of the changes have come on the competition side," Jones said. "The competition has increased ten-fold. It is a lot tougher from last year to this year from what I have seen. The trucks drive similar to what I have seen before, maybe a little bit more downforce and they handle a little bit better. The biggest difference is that there are better drivers, more experienced drivers in these truck fields now, and it's tough. It is like a Busch field or like a Cup field. You have a lot of good drivers out here now."
Jones qualified his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in the 21st slot and deftly moved his way up through the field. He was running in the top-ten by the halfway mark. Following the final caution flag of the evening on lap 66, Jones restarted in the 13th position and moved up to 12th just a few laps later. Jones remained within shouting distance of the top-ten throughout the remainder of the race and settled for 14th as the laps wound down. For Jones, the chance to drive the No. 2 truck was just the type of opportunity he is looking for.
"I know that Jim has been looking for a driver for next year," Jones said. "We have been talking. I know it is a great opportunity. We will just see what happens; maybe something could happen for the future. They have had a little bit of a struggle this year but it looks like the last four races they have turned it around. I am just so excited that Team ASE, CARQUEST and Jimmy Smith gave me this opportunity."
The next step for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors is the Silverado 350K at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday Oct. 16th. The race will be broadcast live on The Speed Channel, MRN Radio and XM Satellite Radio at 3 pm ET.