Drive to the Title: No Time to Die

Arizona Sports News online

Scottsdale’s Jagger Jones was putting on a dominating performance at Meridian Speedway. After qualifying on the pole for the first time in his NASCAR career, he would lead the first 120 laps of the race and the most laps of any driver. 

With only 3 laps remaining, Jones in the No. 6 Sunrise Ford XYO machine took the lead back from points leader Derek Kraus, looking for his first career NASCAR win in his rookie season when this happened:

Not only would the incident end Jones’ night, but it also collected the other two championship competitors still in the title hunt, Hailie Deegan and Trevor Huddleston. With his fourth win of the season and misfortune of the rest of the field, Kraus’ lead extended to 40 points with only three races remaining. With every spot on the track being worth an extra point to the championship series, one could say Kraus is nearly 40 spots on the race track ahead of his competition with only about 20 cars on track each race.

If you add up the math there, that would mean Kraus has nearly two entire races worth of points on the rest of the field, bringing the 18-year-old a step closer to clinching the championship before the series even arrives for the final race of the year at ISM Raceway on Nov. 9.

For Jones, this isn’t the first time someone else’s win has come at his expense in 2019. Multiple times Jones has been either wrecked or sent to the back due to someone else making contact with the No. 6 car late in a race, ending his chances at making big gains in the points. It’s also not the first time Jones and Kraus have gotten together, and it seems Jones is getting fed up with being the rookie pushed around.

The K&N Pro Series has turned into children racing bumper cars on ovals with drivers bouncing off one another and taking cars out of the picture in crashes late in the race. There are no fingers to point though because almost every full-time driver has been guilty of doing so at some point in the season.

Jones has been impressive all season, not only being consistently up front as a rookie but also by doing in cleanly, not moving fellow drivers into the wall or turning them the other direction to gain spots. It seems the Scottsdale resident wants to let that frustration boil over because as they say, nice guys don’t win championships. Although one of his favorite drivers, Jimmie Johnson, won seven NASCAR Cup championships being the nice guy, so we’ll see if Jones takes a page out of ‘Seven-Time’s’ book.

The Series heads to Roseville, CA’s All American Speedway this Saturday night to probably bang doors and walls again at a third-mile track. The series ends the year starting with this first of two races in California before heading to Avondale for the final race of 2019 at ISM Raceway. 

Last year’s race at All American was one of Kraus’ worst races of the season, finishing fifteenth after getting caught up in an incident 42 laps into the race. There’s no time to give up or lay back with Kraus on the verge of winning a championship before the final race of the season. If the rest of the field wants any chance to have an opportunity to get to ISM Raceway with the championship still up for grabs, they’ll have to hope Kraus finds the same fate this year.

Be sure to keep up with a new Drive to the Title notebook before every race weekend here at Sports360AZ. Join the conversation on Twitter with @Sports360AZ@devonhenry77, and #KNWest.