Race Weekend Central

Brandon Jones Falls 1 Spot Short of Crashing Xfinity Playoff Party

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – It hadn’t been the start to the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season that Brandon Jones or JR Motorsports’ No. 9 team had hoped for, but the team entered Saturday’s (Sept. 9) Kansas Lottery 300 with one task at hand: win.

And of all the tracks for Jones to be faced with a must-win situation, Kansas Speedway perhaps offered his greatest chance of spoiling the playoff party.

JRM had turned up the heat in the summer, as teammates Justin Allgaier and Sam Mayer had combined to win three of the prior six races. And in a season full of disappointment, just one race had the opportunity for Jones turn it all around.

While the two-time Kansas winner came one spot short of making a splash into playoffs on Saturday, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying. After starting the day in fourth, Jones came back from not one, but two spins before halfway to finish runner-up behind a dominant John Hunter Nemechek.

“Two spins, it was pretty eventful for sure,” Jones said. “Still not a pitch perfect day. You know, I think that [first] one was kind of self-induced, I was surprised at how loose the car got, because I wasn’t really fighting it to that extent. …

“The one with the No. 7 was difficult to miss, I think. Wrong place, wrong time at that one. … made some good changes and got back to the front.”

Indeed he did, as Jones quickly slotted into second after the final restart with 50 laps to go. But on a day where Nemchek led 154 of the 200 laps and won by over seven seconds, Jones’ car was too far off for him to challenge.

“I did get a little too loose again, I think,” Jones said. “That’s the way the trim was building and typically it goes the other way here, which I’ve always fought: just kind of getting too tight.

“So, I was wanting to start [the race] a little bit loose, but I think it just was whatever your balance was, that’s what you migrated and got worse at. So yeah, and then the rubber built really, really thick today as well … so that kind of had a little bit to do with the balance of handling issues.”

With the No. 20 growing smaller in his windshield as the laps ticked down, Jones either had to hope for a caution or divine intervention.

“I had some weird feeling that John Hunter [Nemechek] was going to have some kind of problem or something,” Jones said. “Obviously a lot of speed in that No. 20 car there and no issues for them.

“My goal once he got that far out was to stay second and hope [he] tagged the wall, had a flat or something; that would’ve been my only hope to try and get him there.”

See also
John Hunter Nemechek Dominates to Win at Kansas

And although the performance didn’t lead to a playoff berth, it will give the No. 9 team momentum to finish out the year.

“I think that having good, solid runs is good for team comradery, it’s good for this organization,” Jones said. “I know I say it a bunch, but we’ve just been so up and down on our finishes, so that it’s just kind of nice to get that turned back around. And kind of – not really prove to everybody – but just [have the] reassurance of ‘okay, we’re still there, we’ve still got it.'”

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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