Racing StartErik got his start in racing when he was just 7 years old racing quarter midgets saying "It wasn't anything that my parents pushed me into, it was something that I really wanted to do from the time that I was just a toddler."
After winning his first championship in quarter midgets back in 2007; he started racing street stocks at Owosso Speedway where he would win Rookie of the Year honors. The then 12 year old Erik Jones set his sights on racing Late Models & at the age of just 13, he got his chance. His 2010 victory at Dixie Motor Speedway made him the youngest winner in series history.
Young & FastJust one year later, Erik won the JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour title. He made the switch from ASA Late Models to the Super Late Models during the off-season & in December of 2011; he made his presence in the racing world known with his astonshing win at New Smyrna Speedway in the Governor's Cup 200 where he led from green flag to checkered flag dominating the event. By the way....that was just his 2nd ever Super Late Model start.
On March 10th, Erik became the youngest starter in ARCA History driving for Venturini Motorsports when he was just 15. Jones led 14 laps before a mechanical failure relegated him to a 29th place finish. He made 9 more starts in ARCA this year with a best 3rd (twice) & 4 top 5's. This was very impressive but no where near as huge as what he would accomplish on December 2nd of this year...
The Snowball DerbyThe 45th Snowball Derby was to say the least, crazy. From Steven Wallace chucking a hammer to half the field being involved in incidents. Erik started 9th & was leading by lap 70. He led a race high 124 laps on his way to securing the win after an epic battle with Kyle Busch. I asked him at what point did he realize that he may actually win that race.
"Well, we had a good car all week. We came down and tested the Saturday and Sunday before the race and I felt that the car was very good, ad definitely would be able to contend for a win. You don't really know what you have until the other cars show up though. After the last pit stop I knew that we had a shot at winning the race, and felt like racing against Kyle was going to be a huge challenge. But we were able to prevail and come out on top in the end."
Erik raced head-to-head with the likes of Kyle Busch; one of the most aggressive & talented drivers in NASCAR & he out-wheeled him which is a victory in itself. Unlike most drivers including Chase Elliott, Steve Wallace & TJ Reaid who were very angry with Busch after the race; Erik told me that he loved racing with Rowdy.
"I really enjoyed racing with Kyle. He is a had dosed and aggressive racer, but at the same time he will race you with a lot of respect. When you get out on the track with your helmets on I believe that we all become equals. You don't know if its Kyle Busch driving the car or not, to me it is just another car on the track."
The 16 year old has done so much in his young career & this is what he had to say about where this win ranks in his already very long list of racing achievements...
"This is definitely the biggest win that I have ever had in my career. This race just has so much prestige and history behind it, and also you are racing the best of the best down here. You have 60 cars from all over the country coming down here just trying to make the race, and to be able to win it is huge for me and my team."
Lastly, I wanted to find out where Erik wants to go with his racing career & if he has aspirations to become a NASCAR driver.
"Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Do you want to make it to NASCAR's national level or do you want to go a different route?"
"I would love to be able to race on sundays for a living. It is a long road to be one of those 43 lucky drivers, but I think we have a shot at it. You never race for the money, but its nice to be able to make a living doing what you love. I say that a lot but I believe that its very true, and I hope other racers feel the same way about their racing careers."
Erik Jones definitely has the talent to be a superstar. Not many racers that have been doing it for 40 years can say they have done what this kid already has. He is surely one to watch in the years to come & can do great things if the right opportunity presents itself. If someone just gives him the car, then the sky is the limit for this young, racing phenom.