Erik Jones made his name known in the Super Late Model world on his way to the NASCAR Cup Series, first by leading all 200 laps at the Florida Governor’s Cup at New Smyrna Speedway in 2011, then beating Kyle Busch in the 2012 Snowball Derby. His Super Late Model resume rivals that of anyone’s – two Snowball Derby wins, three Winchester 400s, a Florida Governor’s Cup win, a Redbud triumph, two Battle at Berlins and a Howie Lettow Memorial victory at the Milwaukee Mile.
Monday’s Slinger Nationals open practice day was the first time the Richard Petty Motorsports driver got behind the wheel of a Super Late Model in three years. His last SLM start also came at the Slinger Nationals back in 2018, when he finished 23rd after a premature exit 66 laps into the race.
He is driving a second car for John DeAngelis Jr., who has finished in the top-five in each of the last two years. After Monday’s practice day, Jones left the racetrack satisfied ahead of Tuesday’s race.
“It’s been good. Just with this first run, I’ve been trying to get a feel for it again. I remember how to get around this place, fortunately the last time I was in one, it was here,” Jones said. “I still remember a lot, we got up to speed pretty quick. The car is good though.
“It’s a tough day, you only have one set of tires you have to work through and make changes and learn. It can be tough but it’s been good.”
His first appearance at the Slinger Nationals produced one of the most memorable finishes in the race’s history back in 2016, albeit he was on the wrong side of it. He was leading until the race’s final corner, when he was on the receiving end of a bump-and-run by 2003 NASCAR Cup Series champion and would end up finishing second.
Since the events of that Nationals five years ago, Jones has wanted to add the Larry Detjens Trophy to his collection.
"It would be huge, it’s obviously one on my bucket list since I keep coming back. I want to win this one pretty bad. I really like this track and racing here. Just the names of the guys that have won this race in the past are a lot of guys that I look up to in racing over my career and in racing history. Just to have my name added would be special."
“I wouldn’t be lying if I said having come so close would give me more fuel to the fire to come and try and do it again. I’m thankful for the DeAngelis folks for letting me come out and run the car and Scag (Power Equipment) coming on board. I’m just happy to be back in a Super, really.”
Tuesday night’s Slinger Nationals will be broadcasted live on Speed51.TV. Click here to purchase your PPV ticket and watch live.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo