Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Is Brandon Jones Just Unlucky?

AJ Allmendinger won a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at a road course? Color me surprised. Let’s talk about something else.

Brandon Jones is now six races into his tenure at JR Motorsports, and has a highest finish of 11th, which came at Circuit of the Americas this past weekend.

Before then, his highest finish was 14th at Daytona International Speedway in the first race of the year. His average finish is 20th. In comparison, Justin Allgaier (13th), Sam Mayer (10.5) and Josh Berry (9.8) are all in similar equipment and, obviously, are outperforming him.

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Why, though?

Some will tell you he’s just unlucky, and they’ll point to this past weekend as an example. Jones suffered a puncture entering the infamous turn 1, and you would have thought his race was finished, but as stated earlier, he climbed back to 11th — an admittedly solid performance for the Atlanta, Georgia, native. He outperformed his situation this past weekend, but that’s not always the case.

I think there’s a bigger picture here.

Jones is in the best equipment (the exact same car that very well could have won a championship last year), has the best teammates and the most money behind him, but he’s never been able to put together a consistently high-powered season.

It’s not like he just happened into this spot, either. Jones won eight out of the 30 races he drove in over the course of his ARCA Menards Series career. He had the mojo at one point. Since he made the jump to Xfinity, though, things haven’t been the same — especially in recent years. He’s come close, but he’s never been a threat to win week in and week out.

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Out of the 236 Xfinity races he’s entered, almost always in top of the line equipment, Jones has only won five times.

Racing for anyone other than the teams he’s been on, those would be fantastic numbers, but he’s been at Joe Gibbs Racing and now JRM with those numbers. Those are teams that don’t tolerate a lot of losing.

Defenders will say, “He just needs time to figure it out.”

But I’d like to point to another young driver on that team who “just needs to figure it out” in Mayer, and have them tell me who they would rather have on a team that everyone knows is hungry for a Cup Series charter at the right price.

Point to this past weekend as the perfect example of Jones’ “bad luck” if you want, but what happens when he’s leading with two to go and just spins out again? Is that bad luck, or is it that he ran out of talent? We’ve already established that Jones has won before, but this is a movie that we watch in the Xfinity Series more than we realize. Some guys get there after dominating in the lower series and they just can’t cut it. Jones has yet to prove that he’s the guy that can.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not a team owner you can run out of talent for in the biggest moments and keep your job for very long, and if Jones can’t keep the ship pointed in the right direction at JRM, you and I are going to blink, and he’ll be the next hottest driver that No Name Racing is excited to have on board.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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Not sure but does family money have anything to do with his being there in the first place?
Racing has gone from backyard mechanics to rich kids buying rides. Love to see an honest article on that.

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