Brandon Jones is having a run that many drivers dream of having. In his last four race starts, the 17-year-old has two wins in the ARCA Racing Series and tonight he collected his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series win at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Jones took the lead from Sergio Pena with eight laps to go in the Autolite Iridium XP 150 and held off a late challenge from Kenzie Ruston to get the win.
“At the beginning of the race, we were way too tight. I think some drivers figured out the lane was really coming in there. Shane (Huffman, crew chief) was really on me about moving up there and it worked,” Jones said after the race. “We made a really good change at the pit stop and got it out front.”
The action was wild in the final ten laps as Cole Custer led the field into turn one. Pena went four wide to get to second, but Jones was right on his back bumper.
On lap 140, Custer got too high in turn two and had to back off from hitting the wall. He lost the lead to Pena and fell back to fourth. Custer would get by Pena on the last lap to finish third.
“I probably drove in too deep and hit a bump up there and then got in the dirt and I couldn’t go anywhere,” Custer said after the race. “I tried to keep it off the wall. I messed up. There was no excuse for us to run third.”
At the same time Jones got the lead, Kenzie Ruston also made a run on Pena and took over second. She tried to chase down, but still recorded her best finish in her K&N Series career.
“It was so close,” Kenzie said after the race. “ I just cannot thank these Ben Kennedy racing guys for working so hard week in and week out. We keep improving. We had a really good car at Columbus two weeks ago and tonight we improved on that. We were catching Jones at the end, but needed a couple of more laps.”
Pena was fourth and Scott Heckert came home with a fifth place finish.
There was some controversy near the halfway mark as Ben Rhodes, who was the leader near the break, came down pit road a lap too early for the halfway break. Jesse Little, Brodie Kostecki and Kyle Benjamin, all were running in the top five followed Rhodes down pit road.
None of the four stop and rolled through the pits. Officials penalized the four for returning the track while the official at the end of pit road was displaying the stop sign and speeding down pit road. All four had to restart from the rear of the field.
“Spotter told me on the backstretch that NASCAR said we are pitting this time. So I was coming around and saw the pace car go straight and my spotter was telling me to go in. I looked over and saw the green flag waving,” Rhodes said after the race. “I am not sure if I was penalized for coming down to early or exiting when I should not have. From what I saw, I was coming to a stop and going about 5 mph on the brakes hard. As soon as I came to a stop, he turned the paddle to green. Either way I was sent to the back. Oh well, we have to move on, can’t dwell on it.”
Rhodes would finish seventh while Little was 12th. Kostecki was 15th and Benjamin was 17th.
Greg Pursley finished ninth and will be credited as the winner for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. David Mayhew finished 10th overall and will be credited with a second place finish on the West side.
Jesse Little earned his first 21 Means 21 Pole Award.
So far in 11 K&N Pro Series combined events at Iowa Speedway, there have been 11 different winners and 11 different pole award winners.
The NASCAR K&N Series Pro East will head to Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glens, New York on Friday, August 8th.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will be going to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington on Saturday, August 16th.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & West
Autolite Iridium XP 150
1 33 Brandon Jones 150
2 96 Kenzie Ruston 150 0.338
3 0 Cole Custer 150 1.925
4 4 Sergio Pena 150 2.663
5 34 Scott Heckert 150 3.256
6 71 Eddie MacDonald 150 4.375
7 41 Ben Rhodes * 150 5.022
8 31 Kaz Grala * 150 5.601
9 26 Greg Pursley 150 5.737
10 17 David Mayhew 150 6.215
11 6 Daniel Suarez 150 6.64
12 97 Jesse Little 150 6.862
13 20 Gray Gaulding 150 7.358
14 16 Brandon McReynolds 150 7.816
15 43 Brodie Kostecki * 150 7.904
16 15 Nick Drake * 150 8.14
17 27 Kyle Benjamin * 150 8.585
18 66 James Bickford * 150 8.713
19 98 Cameron Hayley 150 9.141
20 14 Trey Hutchens * 150 14.76
21 1 Ross Chastain 150 22.17
22 4 Ronnie Bassett Jr. * 149 1 Lap
23 21 Mackena Bell 149 1 Lap
24 10 J.J. Haley * 149 1 Lap
25 99 Chris Eggleston 149 1 Lap
26 83 Kelly Admiraal 149 1 Lap
27 9 Dylan Lupton 149 1 Lap
28 5 Thomas Martin 149 1 Lap
29 42 Jay Beasley * 149 1 Lap
30 56 Akinori Ogata * 149 1 Lap
31 51 Justin Funkhouser 147 3 Laps
32 47 Cale Conley 146 4 Laps
33 55 Zach Bruenger * 145 5 Laps
34 22 Austin Hill * 145 5 Laps
35 36 Jairo Avila * 144 6 Laps
36 30 John Wood 142 8 Laps
37 11 Jack Sellers 142 8 Laps
38 84 Rich DeLong III * 135 15 Laps
39 24 Brennan Newberry 70 80 Laps
40 2 Ryan Gifford 59 91 Laps
41 38 Zack Huffman * 17 133 Laps
42 54 Anthony Giannone 11 139 Laps
43 77 Anderson Bowen 10 140 Laps
– Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Midwest Editor. Twitter: @KevinRamsell
Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR