By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
2020 has been a feast-or-famine season for one Brandon Jones in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Saturday was one of those good days.
Running the first-ever Xfinity race on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, Jones came home second behind Austin Cindric following 52 wild laps on the 3.6-mile circuit.
Restarting as the leader with five laps to go, the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was unable to hang onto to top spot, however, gapped a contact-filled third-place battle to come home second.
“This was a really big day for us,” Jones said. “I think we needed this for road courses, confidence-wise. The last restart, I thought about Kansas all over again when they all pushed up and I thought this could possibly be a chance.”
Jones is the only driver other than Cindric to win in the series since early July, doing so at Kansas Speedway on July 25 when he sneaked past Cindric for the victory on a late restart.
“It was fun racing (Austin) Cindric there,” he said of Saturday. “Me and him are finally racing really clean I feel like and having a good time doing it. All that was really good.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and figure out where the No. 22 (Cindric) is a little bit better. It’s every corner, he’s just able to attack harder I feel like. If those are brakes or just experience, I don’t know. I’ll have to figure that out.”
The result was Jones’ sixth top-five finish of 2020, tying his career-high number in the category in his fifth season.
“The area we need to work the most on is maintaining track position all day and not sneaking in here on these restarts at the end to try to win them,” he said, “which is still good, but I just think that’s an area we can improve on.”
Totaling two wins this year, Jones is confident to continue the pace into the fast-approaching playoffs.
“I’m looking forward to the final [playoff] round if we get there,” he said. “That’s Kansas and Phoenix and we’ve won both of those this year with really good race cars so if we get there, they’re going to be ready for it.”