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Local driver Chris Jones continued his remarkable ascent up the NASCAR chain with an impressive finish at last weekend?s Phoenix 150, a part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Jones, a native of Forest, started 35th in the Friday night race, but worked his way up in the field. In the end, following a mishap in the pits and after some shuffling on cautions, he settled for 27th place in a field that included such hot brands as Kevin Harvick, Stacey Compton and Mike Skinner.
Kyle Busch, no slouch himself, won the race that saw an average speed of 133 mph and speeds up to 150 mph on the straightaways on the Arizona track.
?It is an honor to be racing with some of the best in the business,? stated Jones. ?It has been a dream come true for me.?
Jones, only 20 years old, was one of the youngest starters in this race.
Jones? back-of-the-pack starting position was due to a broken valve spring that resulted in an engine change during practice, but he stayed on the lead lap throughout the race. He was able to pick off drivers and work his way into 21st place, his best spot of the night.
However, a dropped jack during a pit stop resulted in Jones slipping 11 positions.
?It was disappointing,? rued Jones. ?We were never able to regain all our lost positions, but that?s racing.?
The run was good enough to warrant a call from Brett Bodine, of NASCAR. Bodine informed Jones that his performance at Phoenix merited approval for the 20 year old to race at Homestead Miami this weekend. The 1.5 mile track will be host to the Ford 200. The race will be televised on the SPEED channel on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m.
Rick Jones was pleased by his son?s performance. ?Chris is excited. He?s hoping this will take him somewhere,? said Rick Jones. ?A lot of excitement is getting generated (by Chris? racing success).?
Chris Jones ran at Phoenix for Green Light Racing, out of Mooresville, North Carolina. Green Light is owned by Bobby Dotter. The #08 truck that Chris has been running in lately is sponsored by Robert?s American Gourmet Snacks. That company?s owner, Robert (Rob) Ehrlich, is coming to Homestead to watch Chris at the race this Friday.
?I am looking forward to meeting Mr. Ehrlich and I feel privileged to have him come all this way to watch me race,? said Chris Jones. ?I?m grateful for the opportunity his sponsorship has given me.?
While Jones is just getting his first taste of racing at this level, he seems to be taking full advantage of it. He?s keeping his fenders on and staying out of trouble. As his skill draws further attention in the world of racing, this dynamic young man from Forest may see a wide range of opportunities open up for him.