Local Hero Holds Off NASCAR Champion at Kil-KareZach Hiser
Special from Speed51.com – According to the official Champion Racing Association record books, Kyle Jones entered Sunday’s JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race with one career win with the series, but that came in the Battle at Berlin 251 in a combination event with the ARCA/CRA Super Series when he finished sixth as the highest-running driver with the series.
On Sunday afternoon at Kil-Kare Raceway, he got win number two the old-fashioned way – beating the field to the checkered flag.
Jones held off 2000 NASCAR Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte over a series of restarts in the final 35 laps to take a special win at his home track.
This one’s really special, especially it being here at Kil-Kare. I pretty much grew up here and this is where I started racing at in 2001,” Jones told Speed51. “It’s a pretty special place, it’s a shame that we don’t get to race more here.
Jones started seventh after the invert and made short work of the field, finding himself in the lead by lap 22. Outside a series of restarts during the 100-lap affair, he went mostly unchallenged the rest of the way.
“I couldn’t have asked for much more than that. We started seventh, got the lead pretty early in the race and saved some stuff. When Labonte got into second for those restarts there, I probably could’ve gone a little bit better, but not much. It couldn’t have went much better than it did.”
Bobby Labonte set quick time in JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour qualifying, but stared 17th in the race due to CRA rules regarding testing. He worked his way to second by lap 60, but that would be as close as he would get to the lead.
Overall, Labonte had a strong day in what was his first Late Model race in 15 years.
It just seemed like it was hard to pass early and I was making some decent moves. Made a move, had to cool the tires off; made a move, had to cool the tires off,” Labonte said. “As I got used to the track later on I felt like I could run equal to Kyle, I just needed a little more grip and a little more time on the racetrack.
“It was a lot of fun. I haven’t done this for 15 years, at least. It was good stuff.”
Three-time series champion Cody Coughlin rounded out the podium, while Kody Swanson and Tanner Jack completed the top-five.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo: John Lund