(WINCHESTER, Ind) – Veteran Ken Schrader didn’t win Sunday’s Herr’s Chase The Taste 200 presented by Federated Car Care, but he taught teenager Brandon Jones a thing or two, and the lessons probably helped Jones get to victory lane at Winchester Speedway.
Jones became the second driver of the 2014 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season to win in his ARCA debut, passing runner-up Mason Mitchell in turn four of the final lap of the race. Mitchell was leading the race at the white flag and through much of the backstretch when Jones drove hard into the corner, made contact and passed Mitchell, beating him to the checkered flag.
“I drove it in as hard as I could and luckily it stuck,” said the 17-year-old Jones, who hails from Atlanta. “I kind of got into him, which I hated to do.”
Jones started second behind Menards Pole Award winner Schrader and was in the top five much of the race. During a green flag run that went nearly 100 laps, Jones said Schrader taught him a little bit about the venerable Winchester Speedway.
“I saw him (Schrader) sort of drop back there early in the race,” Jones said. “He was saving his tires. I kind of drove the tires off of mine. That really made a difference. After we put on tires, that’s what I tried to do.”
Jones stayed on the lower end of the top five for a second long green flag run. When a caution flew late in the race, he pitted for more tires and came out second.
“The Turner Scott guys gave me a great pit stop,” Jones said. “Once I got out there, I knew we had a car that was capable of winning.”
Mitchell was disappointed with second, but called the bump by Jones a racing incident.
“It was the last lap,” he said. “He did what he had to do. It’s alright. It’s okay. We’ll go on to the next race and win that one.”
Mitchell, in the No. 98 Musselman’s-Wildlife Foundation of Florida-TTS Ford, closed the point gap with Grant Enfinger to 10 points. Enfinger finished fifth after getting as high as second.
“When we unloaded we were off,” Enfinger said. “But (Crew chief) Kelly Kovski made some great calls and I felt like the car improved. On that long green flag run, we were really good. When we got those late cautions, our car wasn’t set up for those short runs.”
Justin Boston finished third in the ZLOOP Toyota while Schrader was fourth.
Boston got caught up in an opening lap mishap that took out SCOTT Rookies Kyle Weatherman and Anderson Bowen, but recovered enough to earn the top-five finish, his third of the season.
“I thought we could have had a shot at it in the end,” Boston said. “I thought the two of them (Mitchell and Jones) were both going to wreck and we might pick up the win.
“Either way, the Venturini guys gave us a good car. I didn’t think it was going to be when we first got here, but (crew chief) Kevin Reed made some changes and really improved the car.”
Venturini Motorsports put four cars in the top 10. Besides Boston’s third-place car, rookie drivers J.J. Haley was sixth and Cody Coughlin seventh while John Wes Townley was eighth in a great showing for the longtime ARCA team.
Schrader led 88 laps throughout the day after picking up his 18th ARCA pole and becoming the oldest driver in series history to win a short track pole. He almost pulled off his 18th series win.
“We had a bad vibration for a lot of laps, but nothing fell off and nothing broke,” he said. “Then, that caution came out. We didn’t need that caution. I really wanted to add my name to the list of stock car winners here at Winchester.”
Mitchell led a race-high 90 laps. The race had four cautions for 29 laps. It marked the halfway point of the 2014 ARCA season.
Defending race winner Frank Kimmel got caught up in a late race wreck and finished ninth. Austin Wayne Self was 10th and Karl Weber 11th.
Jones, in the No. 4 Exide Chevrolet, became the second driver of the season to win in a Turner Scott Motorsports car, owned by Steve Turner. He led laps 58 to 78, then lap 200. His biggest fan in the crowd had to be his mother, Becky, who watched her son make the last lap pass to lead the most important lap of the day, then do a burnout on the front stretch in front of the Winchester faithful.
“I know he was saving tires, but when those late cautions came out, I knew it was on,” she said. “I’m so happy that he finally got a win. He’s been working so hard for a long time. I’m happy for him and this team.”
The ARCA Racing Series was making its 25th appearance at the 100-year-old Winchester Speedway and the main event of an event-filled weekend. A new historical marker was dedicated, a sprint car race and top speed modified cars, plus dozens of historical cars were part of the weekend.
“This is just awesome,” Jones said. “It’s a great track. It’s pretty crazy that the track has been around this long. I’m very happy to add my name to the great list of winners here.”
The Winchester race will re-air on CBS Sports Network at 4 p.m. on Monday, July 7 and at 10 a.m. on July 13.
The ARCA Racing Series has a week off before returning to the Midwest with the Ansell ActivArmr 150 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19. That race will be televised live on Fox Sports 2.