In North America, the Jones family name is well recognized in the motorsports community, especially in the Open Wheel and Sports Car ranks. The family legacy began with the legend Parnelli Jones in the 1960’s and 1970’s before passing the torch to son P.J. Jones in the 90’s onward.
For the past few years, the third generation of the Jones’ name has begun to rise out on the short tracks of California, with Jagger Jones beginning to forge his own path in the Late Model and Super Late Model ranks of the Golden State.
But Jones’ career got a big spike this past Saturday night in his first East Coast start, piloting a Late Model Stock Car for the first time, and for one of the most popular teams, JR Motorsports.
Jagger stunned all in attendance at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) this past weekend, coming from the back to the front in the second of two twin Late Model features, a feat that even he found hard to believe.
“I thought I was going to be really competitive after our test on Friday, but with a new team and learning new tires and a new track, it can take a little bit to get the first win. It was pretty awesome.”
Despite the win coming after just three days in the No. 88, Jones was able to fall back on his West Coast Late Model experience to help himself adjust to the Late Model Stock.
“We went and tested at Hickory on Thursday to make sure I fit in the seat and make sure all that was good. Then we went down to Myrtle Beach and practiced Friday, that was it. The Late Models we race on the West Coast are really similar. We run different tires and shock rules, but it’s the same motor I’m used to,” Jones explained.
Jones was surprised with not just winning, but just how he won that second feature race.
“I was shocked,” he admitted. “In the first race I thought I had more of a chance, because the second race I started 17th after getting into an incident in the first race and getting a flat tire. It was amazing.
After a few days to soak it in, Jones is now most excited about the career boost he has gotten in just that amount of time.
“It does a lot for my career winning in my first start with JR Motorsports. I saw that Dale Jr. retweeted my tweet, stuff like that is pretty awesome,” he said. On the West Coast, I feel people don’t pay attention as much and they don’t give us a lot of credibility as the East Coast. So, to win the first time out on the East Coast is awesome.”
Jones is also thankful to everyone on the JR Motorsports crew for giving him a chance, and also to a certain seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, who passed along the good word to the folks on the East Coast.
“We talked to L.W. Miller and Jimmie Johnson. He’s a good friend of my dad, we’ve been talking with him and he definitely helped with that,” Jones said. “When we talked with L.W., he said they only have a few available races for this year, so we put a deal together for those races.”
At the track over those three days, Jones also had the benefit of coaching from the regular occupant of the No. 88 Late Model, Josh Berry.
“Josh was a huge help,” Jones stated. “He was giving me a lot of tips. He actually won the last Late Model race they had at Myrtle Beach, and he’s won the Myrtle Beach 400 too. He knows that track as well as anyone, and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
What’s more? Jones has already made the most of a limited opportunity, with the young California driver only having two more chances to pilot the No. 88 in 2018. But there is no doubt that he is more than ready for the upcoming starts.
“We got two more races with JR Motorsports this year, one is at South Boston in July and the other is at Hickory in September. When I saw the schedule of what they had available, they are three of the coolest tracks that people talk about, so it’s pretty exciting.”
In the meantime, Jones turns his attention back to Super Late Model racing back home, with the 2016 NASCAR California Rookie of the Year involved in a fierce battle for the track title at Kern County Raceway and the NASCAR California Championship, where he is just one point behind current points leader Lawless Allen.
“It’s going really well. I’ve won five races already this year between Kern County and Havasu 95. I’m leading the points at Kern County in the Super Late Models and I’m second in the NASCAR points for the California title. Hope we can have a big end of the year there.”
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Jagger Jones Twitter