NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — Erik Jones led for 131 of 200 laps and won the NASCAR Trucks series race in Iowa on Friday night, giving Kyle Busch Motorsports its seventh win in nine races this season.
It’s the second career win for the 18-year-old Jones and the sixth victory of 2014 for the No. 51 truck — with five of those coming with Busch behind the wheel.
Ryan Blaney was second, followed by Matt Crafton, Joey Coulter and German Quiroga Jr.
Although Jones had the best truck for most of the race, Blaney tracked him down near the end. The pair even went side-by-side 16 laps from the finish, but Jones held Blaney off for his first win in 2014.
“Two young guys just battling hard there for the win, I’d say. Pretty hungry,” Jones said. Blaney “was making me run a lot harder than I wanted to.”
Crafton took the points lead from Johnny Sauter by finishing third.
Jones was the youngest winner in series history last season in Phoenix. He held off the 20-year-old Blaney for another victory in his ninth career race.
Blaney thought he could catch Jones in traffic, and the two trucks nearly spun each other while tangling by the start-finish line. But Jones held off Blaney’s best push, bucking a five-race trend in which the driver who led the majority of the race at Iowa didn’t end up winning it.
Jones had struggled in his first three races despite driving the dominant truck in the series. He bounced back from a wreck at Gateway with a run that turned his limited season around.
“I get limited opportunities at this,” Jones said. ‘You really want to make your mark every time you get in it. … I’m glad we could get out front and command the race.”
Despite the loss, Blaney moved within two points of Crafton for the points lead.
“He seemed to struggle in traffic all (race), and I knew that was my best opportunity to try and get by him,” Blaney said. “We got really close and it almost sucked me around. Luckily we didn’t wreck right there.”
Darrell Wallace won his first pole of the season and the second of his career earlier Friday. Wallace then led for 41 laps before Dustin Hapka’s wreck drew a caution and reshuffled the field.
Two of the top stars in the series got after it a few laps later.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. stuck Timothy Peters — a two-time winner in Iowa — into the wall. Peters appeared to retaliate by bumping the back of Hornaday’s No. 30 truck and sending it into a 360-degree spin.
Hornaday managed to save his truck, but the incident pushed him far from contention. He finished 21st.
Peters lost 79 laps, and he wound up 31st.
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