Sunday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario came down to an intense battle between 19-year-old Erik Jones, one of NASCAR's most promising young stars making just his second career road-course start, versus 41-year-old Alex Tagliani, the Canadian road-course ace looking to bring home his first career NASCAR victory.
Jones led Tagliani by just under a second when a two-car accident set up a two-lap shootout for the trophy. The two raced side-by-side into Turn 1 before the No. 4 Tundra emerged out front heading up the hill to Turn 2. The young American was able to maintain a distance of two to three truck lengths on the veteran Canadian until the two drivers reached Turn 5 on the final lap. Tagliani closed to Jones' bumper, but was unable to get by the talented youngster. KBM's young gun pulled away heading up the Mario Andretti straightway and then cruised to a 1.665 second victory over Matt Crafton after Tagliani lost a gear and limped to a fifth-place finish.
"It's awesome - especially winning with (Alex) Tagliani here and all these guys," Jones said of his first career road-course win. "This is a good piece. We built it last year, improved on it for this year and pretty happy to get this KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) Toyota Tundra in victory lane. It's just an awesome day. Joe Gibbs Racing Engines, Camping World, the fans - thank you. Just a great day. It's awesome to get back in victory lane here again and hopefully get things rolling for the next few weeks."
Tagliani narrowly edged Jones for the pole during Saturday evening's qualifying session. When the race began, the No. 4 Tundra settled into the runner-up spot for the first six laps and then inherited the lead when the No. 29 truck visited pit road. Crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 13.
With teams on varying pit strategies, Jones ran just inside the top five for the remainder of the first half of the race. He had returned the second position just before teams started making their second round of stops and then when leader Cole Custer pitted, inherited the lead for a lap before visiting pit road himself. The over-the-wall crew administered a four tire and fuel stop and returned their driver to the track in the runner-up spot.
Jones was running in the second position on the bumper of Cole Custer when a one-truck accident on lap 50 slowed the field for the fourth time. On the ensuing restart, the No. 4 Tundra drove hard into Turn 1 on the outside lane and after slight contact emerged with the lead with 11 laps remaining. Tagliani worked his way around Custer and began cutting into Jones' lead with five laps to go, but the talented youngster dug down deep for speed and over the next two laps gained two tenths of a second before the caution flew and set up the two-lap shootout.
Jones collected his second win of 2015 and the sixth in 32 career Truck Series starts. Crafton finished 1.665 seconds behind Jones in the runner-up position. Ben Kennedy finished third, while Daniel Hemric and Tagliani rounded out the top-five finishers.
With Jones' win, Toyota has now won at every active NCWTS track and Kyle Busch Motorsports has won at each active NCWTS track except Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Jones' KBM teammates Gray Gaulding and Matt Tifft finished 11th and 23rd, respectively.
The 14th race of the 2015 season featured five cautions for a total of 13 laps. There were 14 lead changes among six drivers, including Jones who led five times for 19 laps.
With 15 of 23 races completed, Jones advanced two positions to first in the championship standings and now has a three-point lead over Matt Crafton.