Toyota Racing – Brandon Jones
NASCAR Xfinity Series Quotes
CHARLOTTE (September 22, 2020) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Brandon Jones was made available to media via videoconference during the NASCAR Playoffs Media Day:
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Menards Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
With the wins and Playoff points that you have put together this season, does that give you more confidence going into the postseason?
“Yeah, this is unique year for me coming into the Playoffs. I’ve made it, I think the first round, every year that I’ve ran in the Xfinity Series and I’ve made it with no wins, so this is a whole another game changer for me to be able to have the wins, to have the confidence coming into the Playoffs with those wins. If you look back, they are all tracks where I came into the year saying I needed to work on. I needed to get a little bit better at, and that was Auto Club. It didn’t go our way, but we were on track to win that one and Phoenix, that has always been a really difficult race track for me. Darlington, who would have ever thought that place. There’s a whole bunch of tracks that we have done so well at that were just not on our radar this year, so it’s got me really excited for the Playoffs. I think this first round is going to be honestly really good. Vegas has always been really great to us. We’ve always been really fast there. I felt like we had the car to win earlier this year. I think we got a big hole in the nose during the race and it kind of altered our handling some. Talladega and the Roval, I’m not really sure how those are going to go but they can definitely take a turn really fast and go your way, so I think this first round will be good and then we’ve got some great tracks after that. I have the confidence that we can make it to the last round. I think that the tracks are in our favor as well.”
Do you think your team can compete on the same level as the two Ford teams right now?
“I think so. It’s going to be about mental toughness once you get to the end of this. There’s going to be some tracks that you have to say focused on. We’ve been running the entire year so far, so this is the time of the year where people are starting to slack off a little bit and get just a little bit less on edge. So, you’ve got to stay on top of your game every single day. I think that’s what is going to win the championship is making sure – when you have those red flags and you are sitting there hot, and after you fire back up you are ready to go again, and you’ve brushed everything off. Those are little things that are going to get you to that next level.”
What would you consider a successful postseason?
“I came into the season saying that I wanted to win about five races. I think that was a reasonable goal for me and we’ve been so close to already almost getting that with the three wins and there has been a few in there that I’ve mentioned that were so close as well, so that would be a successful year for me. Honestly, this year has already been great. I could end now and say that this has been a really solid year, but I feel like I have a lot left as well for the races that we have and staying focused, continuing to take those notes that I’m doing, continuing to stay on top of fitness, all of that stuff is going to be key to keep pushing to get those wins. That’s what we are focused on week-to-week. Our big goal is that championship, getting to that Final Four but we take it each race and don’t get too far ahead of ourselves and try to limit it to that single week.”
How confident are you in your ability to win in Phoenix again if you make the Final Four?
“I think we are going to be really strong again if we get to that last round. I feel that this year that the PJ1 really played into our favor. We’ve been really strong at tracks that have added traction compound down to the race track. If they continue to do that, I think that we are going to be really strong. I put in some really good notes after that race on what I was doing to be really fast in the PJ1 and how many laps it took to find that. That led to a lot of success there. I feel like we don’t ever start that race off very strong. We continue to work on our car, and we got better. I felt like that may have led to a little bit more longevity in our tires and led us to passing Kyle (Busch) there in the end. That’s what helped a bunch.”
There’s one track that you’ve won at multiple times and that is Kansas. Is that a race that you have circled?
“Something that I’ve worked on a bunch this year is getting my restarts down and being way more aggressive and I’ve looked at these restarts this year as I don’t want to be the one getting attacked, I want to be the one doing the attacking. I feel like that’s what the 7 (Justin Allgaier) does, and I feel like that’s what the 10 (Ross Chastain) does and they don’t worry about what’s behind them. They worry about putting the guy in front of them in a bad spot. That’s kind of what you have to do. It’s you against everyone else and these restarts right now are times to make quick passes and get a bunch of different passes done. Richmond is a great example. The 7 car started behind me and put me three wide and next thing I know he’s in second-place and I’m still stuck where I was because I got put in a bad situation. That’s the key to these late race restarts, and even earlier on in the race is go for it. Don’t stay in the same spot, and the last two Kansas races has just happened that way. We’ve had the speed there. I think we need to improve on our short run speed to maybe lead some more laps, get out there and get some more stage points, and things like that, but that’s where I feel like our strong point has been.”
What is something different you’ve noticed about yourself this season in comparison to others?
“I feel like right when we get off the truck, I know right where I need to be. In the past, it’s kind of been, where to you run to get going and how do you come up to the green flag if we have a practice session or a qualifying session. Things like that. That’s just where you watch veterans come into the series and they have no question where they are going to go, and they know exactly where they are going to attack and what parts of the track are going to have grip. That’s where I feel like I’ve been improving on is maybe racing IQ would be the right word for it. Just kind of showing up to the race track and knowing exactly what to expect and I feel like we’ve done a good job at that. Feedback has definitely improved on my end to Jeff Meendering, the crew chief. I feel like I’ve done a really good job there at giving him some solid feedback throughout the race to improve on our car. This is our second year working together, so I feel like the chemistry there is really strong. He knows exactly what I’m talking about whenever I’m describing things on the car and make changes and that makes for a strong group.”
Do you see at dark horse team that can rise at the end?
“I feel like you kind of see the strong people honestly. I don’t know if we are going to have anyone sneak into this and kind of blindside everybody. I feel like we honestly if anything might be a little bit of a dark horse. I don’t’ know. I think I’ve proven myself this year that we are going to be really strong and contending for a championship if we make it to that last round, but I feel like you have your guys that you are seeing that are going to be really competitive and really hard to beat when it comes to the end.”
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