By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Brandon Jones came home third in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway.
The Throwback Weekend saw Jones go from the back to the front… more than once. Starting 22nd in the 200-miler, Jones managed to race to the lead of the race on the final restart in Stage 2. Contact from AJ Allmendinger relegated him outside the top 15.
By the end of the race, however, turns of pit strategy and multiple restarts gave Jones a shot at the victory, what would have been his second straight in South Carolina’s heartland.
Despite the hard charge on the overtime restart with two laps to go, Jones settled for third behind the JR Motorsports 1-2 finish.
“Our Supra was pretty dang good throughout the race,” said Jones. “We honestly had lap times to win the race. We didn’t have it the entire time, but man, I don’t know. We couldn’t keep track position very good.”
One reason for the struggle to keep track position was following contact from Allmendinger while leading on lap 90. Jones’ Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota slid sideways off Turn 2 when Allmendinger bumped him front behind.
“I don’t know what the beef with the No. 16 [Allmendinger] is,” he said. “The respect level between the two of us is just not there for whatever reason.”
Even still, the comeback was a reality and Jones earned a fifth top-five finish in 2021.
“I knew it was going to be close and that restart there at the very end, those two JRM cars were battling hard and flashbacks came into my mind,” he said. “I thought those two were going to get in the fence and I’ll roll on by.
“We just didn’t have quite enough in the tank, but I think we ran some of the fastest laps of the race so we definitely had speed in our Supra.”
A little extra push to Jones’ ambition on Saturday was the throwback scheme honoring Todd Bodine, showcasing the Camping World Truck Series champion’s colors from 2006.
“To be able to run this Toyota, Todd Bodine throwback – I know this means a lot to them with Toyota,” he said. “I think it was so cool to have [his] scheme this weekend. I definitely wanted to get a win for them in that scheme.
“Just all-in-all, needed to be just a tick better. We’ve got a lot to build on when we come back here in the fall.”