Making the switch from Richard Childress Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing, Brandon Jones has started off his NASCAR XFINITY Series campaign with a 10th and a 17th-place finish in the first two races.
Set to start 16th for the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 21-year-old shared his thoughts prior to the weekend.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into Las Vegas this weekend?
BRANDON JONES: So we got to kind of rebound from last weekend a little bit. Coming to JGR and switching over, it’s been really phenomenal. Been learning a lot in just the two races that I’ve ran for this team. So I think coming to this track, it’s not anything like we’ve run so far. It’s interesting how the schedule starts with these first few races. It’s a great way to tell where you are. So I’m looking forward to this week. I’ve had some success here in the Truck Series, and in XFINITY as well. It’s one of those tracks that fit for me.
PS: How would you rate the first two races so far?
BRANDON: It’s difficult to do. Daytona is always pretty out there. We ended up getting in a wreck, but salvaging a 10th so we were pretty pleased. It was a pretty good rebound for the first race. Then in Atlanta, we were there performance wise. Also last week, we qualified seventh and I thought that was pretty good for myself as I’m not a real good qualifier. So pretty cool to see we were able to do that with one run each round each segment. So I’m pumped to see that. it’s just been good and bad. We just need to fix the mistakes and get the bad luck out of the way and we’ll have some good runs.
PS: What are your goals for this year?
BRANDON: I’m not trying to make too high of goals, obviously. I just want to stay in the top-10 and try to finish these races. There are little things that can happen, like flat tires and stuff like that. So it’s about minimizing that and fighting for the top-10, top-five. If we can end each weekend in the top-10, that’ll be a good weekend for us.
PS: What track are you most excited to get to in the weeks to come?
BRANDON: This is one of them, for sure. This is a track that obviously isn’t really worn out so there’s not a lot of tire fall off. As far as beyond that, I think Kansas is also one that I enjoy going to for the exact same reason that I like Las Vegas. Charlotte is also good to go to, just for staying there and living in Charlotte; it’s great to race close to home. Then I also enjoy going to Iowa. We’ve had success at that track in the K&N Series and the trucks, so those are probably the ones that I enjoy going to. Probably the least favorite and a track that’s hard for me is California, because it’s worn out and difficult to race on that one.
PS: What’s been the biggest difference in going from RCR to Gibbs this year?
BRANDON: The biggest thing that I take from it and what I’ve been happy about is everything that I’ve learned, from the driver debriefs before and after the races and practice. That’s been a little thing that I’ve been thankful in the time that they’ve been teaching me, and how much I’ve already been learning just two races in. I think that’s been a big positive so far. Also, a lot of teammates to lean on and a lot of great ones. I mean, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin – those guys have been having a lot of success in the Cup Series, but they’ve been there to talk to as much as I want to. Being able to pick their brains is something that I think will help long term, from what they do on pit stops, and things like that.
PS: Who is your racing hero?
BRANDON: I was a Kyle Busch fan for what seemed like forever, so it was actually my goal to at least run for KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) a little bit in the Truck Series. Ironically, I got a few rides with them this year, so that’s pretty cool to be a part of with one of the guys that I’ve always liked growing up.
PS: Having some fun now, and letting the fans get to know you. What’s your favorite food?
BRANDON: I would say I’m a red meat guy.
PS: Least favorite food?
BRANDON: I don’t know. I eat just about everything. Whenever I’m asked to go out, I’ll eat anything. I mean, even hunting, I would eat a squirrel. I would probably say something like Octopus. I do like Calamari, but if prepared differently, I would say that.
PS: What is your coolest hunting story on that note, then?
BRANDON: I don’t really have any, really. A couple years ago, I was able to get my first gun and everything; now starting to get into a little bit the past couple of years now. I wish I had a little bit time off to do it. It’s just so time consuming to really get after something. It’s tough on our schedule. I felt like you get great stories if you do it long enough.
PS: Dream vacation spot?
BRANDON: I don’t know. I’m not really one for vacations and I travel so much that I don’t really get into the vacation stuff. But we are going to go down to Florida during a week that we have and go down to south beach, so that’ll be pretty fun. But as far as vacationing, I’m not into too much. I’m about going to Arkansas and spending time with family.
PS: What is your favorite TV show?
BRANDON: It’d probably be – it’s a tough one, but maybe American Grit. That’s a pretty good show.
PS: If you were stuck on an island, what are three things you must have?
BRANDON: I definitely have to have some type of knife, a big long strand of 550 cord, and probably like a flint to get a fire started.
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