Fort Worth, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Eighteen year old Erik Jones became the next driver to win his first career Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night when he held off Sprint Cup Series regulars Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jones, who is a full-time competitor in the Camping World Truck Series this season, started on the pole and led a race-high 79 laps to claim his maiden Xfinity victory in just his ninth start. He drove the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in this race. Jones has also substituted for the injured Kyle Busch in JGR's No. 54 car in two races this season.
"I don't even know what to say right now. It's surreal," Jones said. "Getting here to victory lane in the Xfinity Series at Texas, it's just amazing. We beat Cup guys tonight. That's huge for our team. I never once doubted these guys (at Joe Gibbs Racing). I knew from the start this was going to be a good deal. It's definitely showing now. I can't wait for the rest of the year. I think we're going to see this happen more often."
Jones grabbed the lead for the final time when he passed Earnhardt with 50 laps to go. Both drivers had been in a fierce battle for the top position before Jones pulled ahead of Earnhardt.
After the last restart with 26 laps remaining, Keselowski challenged Jones for the lead, but Jones was able to pull away from Keselowski and then beat him to finish line by 1.6 seconds.
It was the first time Jones competed in a Xfinity race at Texas. Jones has four wins in the Truck Series, including two at Phoenix. He is driving the No. 4 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the series this season.
Keselowski had qualified second for this 300-mile race but had to start from the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made on his No. 22 Team Penske Ford prior to start of the event. He quickly charged through the field and grabbed the lead for the first time on lap 48. Keselowski ran in front for a total of 56 laps.
"Erik had a great car and did a great job," Keselowski said. "On that last restart, we ran wide open and side-by-side for about two laps and then he just cleared me. It was good racing."
Earnhardt ended up third, while Regan Smith and Austin Dillon completed the top-five.
"I couldn't go when I need to go," Earnhardt said. "The car was stepping out real big. I was real loose all night."
One year ago, Chase Elliott scored his first career victory in Xfinity at Texas. Elliott was 18 years old at the time. He went on to become the youngest driver to win a championship in the series. Earnhardt (April 1998) and Kurt Busch (April 2006) also claimed their first race wins in Xfinity at this 1.5- mile track.
Darrell Wallace Jr. and Denny Hamlin finished sixth and seventh, respectively, while Elliott placed eighth. Chris Buescher was ninth and Brian Scott 10th.
Despite finishing 12th, Ty Dillon remained the leader in the point standings. Dillon holds only a two-point advantage over Buescher. Elliott is just 11 behind, while Wallace trails by 15.