Erik Jones Three-Peats As Winchester 400 Winner; Leaves Winchester, Indiana With $119,450 In EarningsCRA_admin
16-year-old Grant Quinlan becomes youngest ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion and top Rookie in series’ 19-year history
Winchester, Indiana (Sunday, October 11, 2015): The entire motorsports world would have all eyes on the legendary high-banks of Winchester Speedway (IN) located east of Muncie and west of the Indiana / Ohio state line in Winchester, Indiana for the 44th Running of the Winchester 400 on Sunday, October 11th. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point’s leader and Six-Time Truck Winner as well as two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Winner, Erik Jones would have the unprecedented opportunity to win the $100,000 JEGS/CRA Super Late Model Triple Crown Series bonus if he could three-peat as Winchester 400 winner in the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS marquee event.
The 19-year-old driver from Byron, Michigan put himself into position to capture the mammoth bonus after winning the Battle at Berlin 251 Presented by Primera Plastics at Berlin Raceway (MI) on June 16th and then going to victory lane in the Stoops Freightliner Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway (IN) on July 18th. Jones came into the 44th running of the 400 as Two-Time Defending Winchester 400 Winner and would get the unprecedented $100,000 payday if he completed the clean sweep of the three ARCA/CRA Super Series Triple Crown Series events.
With a bonus already in his back pocket for winning the first two races of the Triple Crown Series and at the minimum, Jones had already clinched the 2015 JEGS/CRA Super Late Model Triple Crown Series Championship, the 44th edition of the prestigious race would see Jones, with all the weight of the motorsports world on his shoulders and he delivered once again. The 2011 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion in his #4J Port City Racecars / Toyota Care / Toyota took the lead for the last time on lap 322 and would hold off Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Christopher Bell and then late in the race, fellow 19-year-old Cody Coughlin to score the biggest payday on pavement in Super Late Model racing history.
“Wow, this is amazing. Definitely pretty cool to be able to come out of here with a win. I didn’t know after qualifying what kind of shot we had starting 16th. It was the hardest we’ve had to work for one of these rifles.” Jones stated after claiming his third straight Winchester Rifle. “That was a lot of fun racing with Christopher (Bell). He was running really high and had gotten to the top of me when I thought I was running the top before. I figured at some point he’d probably get the wall. But at that point you’re giving it all you’ve got. He just gave it a little too much and slipped. That’s probably a little bit of inexperience on his part. He’s pretty new to the asphalt world, and to the late model world.” Jones added.
Overall and including the JEGS/CRA $100,000 bonus, winner’s purse, lap leader money and contingencies earned, Jones left Winchester, Indiana with one of the highest payouts in short track motorsports history of $119,450 for his efforts. “That’s just amazing, that much money for a days’ work in Super Late Model racing. What a way to go out with a bang.” Continued Jones after the historical victory. “This was the best way possible to leave Late Model racing for awhile. We’re parking this car. It’s going back into storage and won’t be coming out for a long time.” He ended.
In the midst of Jones’ accolades, 16-year-old Grant Quinlan became the youngest driver in ARCA/CRA Super Series history to win both the Series Championship and Rookie of the Year title in the same season. The Harrison, Michigan rising star in his #28 Superior Tool & Mold / International Tool & Mold / Chevrolet clinched both titles by taking the green flag for the 400. “This is pretty awesome to win the ARCA/CRA Super Series title and rookie title too. I can’t say enough about this entire Downey Racing Team for all of their hard work to put me in this position.” The jubilant driver stated. By winning both titles, he joins Scott Hantz and Derrick Griffin as the only others to accomplish the feat.
EDCO Welding Winchester 400 Pole Award Winner, Terry Fisher Jr., and Bell would lead the standout 38-car field to Chief Starter, Brian Duncan’s green flag to begin the longest short track race in the country. Fisher Jr., would beat out Bell heading into the first corner to take the early lead. On lap 30, Bell would take over to control of the race and pace the field up to lap 113 when a caution came out. 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, Chase Elliott, who was running second when the leaders came down pit road, briefly took the lead on pit road due to where each driver’s pit stall was located. But Bell would beat Elliott out of the pits to reclaim the lead once again.
After another caution on lap 210, Fisher Jr., would reclaim the lead after pit stops on lap 213 only to lose that lead to Donnie Wilson on lap 226. Soon it would be Jones who would lead for the first time on lap 245 and he would lead the field onto pit road after another yellow flag. It would be Bell though who would beat the field off of pit road to reclaim the lead once again lap 296 only to watch Wilson reclaim after another trip down pit road as a result of a caution on lap 314. Wilson would then take over on lap 316, but just six laps later, Jones would grab the lead back with Bell in tow.
The battle between the pseudo Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates was on when the pivotal moment of the race occurred with 50 laps to go when Bell, who was building the momentum on the high side briefly took the lead down the backstretch only to slap the turns three and four wall and lose the lead once again to Jones who collected the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race award as a result. A lap later, Bell would drop down to pit road with significant rear end damage ending his afternoon setting up Jones to claim the six figure bonus.
19-year-old Cody Coughlin had other ideas late in the race as he would emerge as the final challenger to Jones in his quest for the unprecedented payday. Several times, Coughlin ran the extreme high side, similar to Bell’s path around the 1/2 mile. Numerous times, Coughlin’s machine would bounce off the outside retaining wall, but he kept going forward in an effort to dethrone Jones from the lead.
As the race was coming to a close though, Coughlin’s consistent bouncing off of the wall would eventually cause him to fade and allow Jones to pull away and close out the Winchester 400 with his third consecutive victory. Jones joins Bob Senneker and Mike Cope as the only drivers to win three or more in a row. In addition and due to starting 16th, Jones also grabbed the first Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award as well as the first Travelers bonus.
Coughlin would finish second in his #1 JEGS.com / Toyota as the 19-year-old continued his impressive run of top five finishes in ARCA/CRA Super Series competition. The Delaware, Ohio rising star, the 2013 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion, held off a late charge by Elliott, who recovered from going a lap down at the midway point of the race in his #9 Rocky Ridge Custom Trucks / Chevrolet to complete the podium finishers in third. The third straight 19-year-old driver in the final rundown started 10th and would also collect the Hedman Hedders Husler award as well as the second Travelers Bonus award as a result of his run.
Quinlan, armed with the 2015 ARCA/CRA Super Series Championship and Rookie of the Year titles would also post a fourth place finish in his first Winchester 400 start. Quinlan scored his seventh Senneker Performance Rookie of the Race award as he fought off a late charge from standout, Bubba Pollard to finish fourth. Pollard’s #26 F.K. Rod Ends / Chevrolet completed the top five as the Senoia, Georgia star scored a few awards for his efforts as well. The 28-year-old headed back south with the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Under Pressure award as well as the third and final Travelers Bonus award as the 2014 Southern Super Series Champion collected his fourth straight top 10 finish.
Jack Smith, the winner of the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race on Friday of the weekend, started 31st and picked up the C.V. Racing Products Hard-Charger award as well as the second Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award and the Highest Finisher utilizing a Crate Motor award with a sixth place showing. Veteran Jeff Fultz finished seventh after starting 19th as another veteran, Rick Turner was eighth in his all-time career leading 234th start. 18-year-old Anderson Bowen fought his way to a ninth place finish after starting 26th as Wes Griffith Jr., completed the top 10. Despite dropping out on lap 351, Bell picked up a couple of awards including the VanDoorn Racing Development Lap Leader award after leading three times for a total of 204 laps, earning additional Lap Leader money for those. He also got the VanDoorn Racing Development Fastest Practice Lap award as well.
The day before in EDCO Welding Pole Qualifying, Fisher Jr., picked up the coveted award which was also his first Fast Qualifier award of the season over a stellar 39-car field. The Fort Wayne, Indiana native in his #81 L.C.K. Trucking / Chevrolet went a 15.297 which equates to 117.670mph. The ARCA/CRA Super Series Track Record remains in the possession of 2007 Series Champion, Chris Gabehart as back on October 17th, 2009 he went a 14.935.
The 2015 Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS Awards Banquet will officially close the 2015 racing season on Friday, January 8th, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown at Union Station in Indianapolis, Indiana. The gala event will honor the champions and top freshman as well as the top 10 teams in final 2015 points from the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS as well as the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance, the Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Powered by JEGS and the Stealth Trailers CRA Street Stock Series Powered by JEGS. In addition, the Lucas Oil Raceway Stock Car Series Presented by Visit Hendricks County Champions within the CRA Late Model Sportsman and CRA Street Stocks will also be honored throughout the night.
For more information about the 2015 CRA Awards Banquet as well as the fast approaching 2016 racing season within all four touring series’ of Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, go to the series website at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/CRAracing
The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year in multiple racing series, including the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the ARCA Truck Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, plus weekly racing at Toledo and Flat Rock Speedways.