CONCORD, N.C. - Brandon Jones held off a late-race, spirited charge from Riley Herbst to win the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards General Tire 150 Thursday night under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Jones, in the No. 12 Mobil 1-TRD Toyota, had a 10-length lead inside of five laps to go when Herbst chopped it down to nothing coming to the white flag. Herbst got to the back bumper of Jones on the last lap but couldn't find a way around the eventual winner. Jones was able to use a lapped car to put two lengths in between himself and Herbst at the checkered flag.
"We gave it all we had…battling for the win," said Jones, who led 32 laps. "Every driver out there was putting it all on the line. This is just incredible. I've been to Charlotte so many times, but never been down in that winner's circle. We came to win it, and that's what we did."
Herbst, in the No. 18 NOS-ORCA Coolers-Advance Auto Parts Toyota, could have used one more lap.
"Wish this race was 101 laps," said Herbst. "This place is awesome…three-wide racing all night. Charlotte's my new favorite race track. You definitely have to run 100 percent of the time. We had a long-run race car. After five, 10 laps everyone started falling off. We just kept wrapping the bottom and got faster. Can't thank my Joe Gibbs Racing guys enough. We needed some momentum…we'll take it to Pocono and try to wax 'em there."
Sheldon Creed, in the No. 28 United Rentals Toyota, mixed it up with the leaders over the back half, and made a bold three-side move to get to the lead on the last restart with seven laps remaining. Creed, who bounced back from an earlier practice crash, led eight laps overall and finished third.
"We didn't get a lot of practice…that put us behind the eight-ball," said Creed. "My guys had to put a new nose on it. We weren't too fast in the beginning but the car came to me. The guys made some great adjustments and I finally figured out (turns) three and four. Once I figured out where the car liked to run, we got really good. In the end, I just didn't get the job done…I wanna win."
Todd Gilliland, in the No. 54 Frontline Enterprises Toyota, dominated the first half, leading 60 laps. However, Gilliland's left-front corner was damaged during the race, and his car began to fade. Despite an ill-handling car in the end, he walked away with the General Tire Pole and a fourth-place finish. Gilliland, who was also fastest in practice, recorded the fastest lap of the race in is DGR-CROSLEY car.
Current championship leader Zane Smith finished fifth in the No. 41 LaPaz Margarita Mix Toyota.
The race marked the return of ARCA to Charlotte after a 14-year absence. The win for Jones was his fifth career ARCA Racing Series victory. Jones is also entered for the ARCA race at Michigan Int'l Speedway (June 8) where he's won the last two races.
"Every time I get in an ARCA car we have so much fun," Jones said. "When the car got too tight, we'd go up to the top to try and free it up. We were all out…as hard as we could go. That three-wide racing got a little harry, but that's how it should be…racing three-wide for the win. We're going to go to Michigan and go for the three-peat."
Quin Houff, Bret Holmes, Will Rodgers, Codie Rohrbaugh and Brandon Lynn complete the top-10 finishers.
It'll be another tight turnaround for the ARCA Racing Series with the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 coming next Friday, June 1 at Pocono Raceway. ARCA officials will hold an open test at Pocono Wednesday, May 30 in preparation for ARCA's 66th appearance at Pocono.
-ARCA Racing Series Press Release. Photo Credit: HHP/Harold Hinson