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NASCAR BGN: PJ Jones has confidence heading to Daytona

Posted By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.,-- Confidence is an important tool for any young stock car racer. According to PJ Jones, driver of the No.1 Yellow Racing Pontiac, there is no better time to have it than during Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Grand National Series opener, the NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

The reason Jones recognizes the significance of a confident pilot is because he feels like one now that James Finch and Phoenix Racing are supporting his race efforts.

"Phoenix Racing has always had strong superspeedway race cars," said Jones. "It just gives me a lot of confidence that they know how to make a good race car for this track. Being part of a team like this is very reassuring for a driver.

"We want to win races," continued Jones. "Obviously, we want to do as well as we can in the points, and to do that we need to run well and find a little luck. But my focus is to win the race. If we can do that once or twice this season, it will be a successful year. With Phoenix Racing, and James Finch and Marc Reno committed as they are to winning, that’s an obtainable goal."

Everyone knows that Phoenix Racing is capable of winning at Daytona. It proved itself on the 2.5-mile oval in 1999 when it took the season’s first checkered flag with driver Randy LaJoie. The question is, would it be able to pick up where it left off with a new driver in the mix for the 2001 season?

Jones and his new team took a step in the right direction posting the top speed during the Daytona International Speedway Busch test session on Jan. 22-25. Jones, the son of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, produced a 184.649-mph effort in preparation for Saturday’s event. The No. 1 Yellow Pontiac was more than two tenths faster than its next competitor, Jay Sauter (184.438 mph.)

"We accomplished a lot with our race car that week," said Jones. "We focused on the basic fundamentals and we obviously got it dialed in to where we were pretty quick. We know that Phoenix Racing is always strong at Daytona, but at the same time, some teams were holding back during the test. Just by looking at the times, we can tell that teams didn’t show everything they had. We’ll just have to wait for Speedweek to see who was bluffing."

"We think we have a good race car for qualifying because of our strong showing at the test session," said Jones. "We’re entering the week with a relaxed attitude. The team feels confident that we’re not going to struggle during qualifying, but at the same time, we’re curious to see how this Pontiac will run during the race. We haven’t seen it draft yet. But even so, we feel like we have a top-10 race car and hopefully we’ll finish better than that. A top 10 in Saturday’s race would be a huge boost for this team. What more could you ask for?"

Text Provided By Chris Hunt

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