The start of the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season was far from smooth for Brandon Jones, but he ended his frustrating spell at Martinsville Speedway with a strong performance.
Jones headed to one of his favorite tracks on April 15 and delivered a much-needed performance. He started the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro 10th overall and kept the car clean while other drivers collapsed after fighting at the short track. Jones then crossed the finish line fifth overall, which was easily his best finish of the season.
Jones was out of contention for the win due to the ongoing battle between winner John Hunter Nemechek, runner-up Sammy Smith and Cole Custer. However, he was simply strong overall, finishing in the top 10 in all three stages. That production earned him 38 crucial points and got him back on track.
Jones is now 13th in the championship standings after the first eight races of the Xfinity Series season. He is nine points behind Parker Kligerman, who is last above the playoff elimination line.
Emotion was evident as Jones climbed out of the #9 Chevrolet Camaro. He told media representatives his team had speed all season but they don’t have the results to show it. Now that they have a top five finish on the books, they have reached a tipping point that puts the team “very close” to victory.
Jones faces great expectations as he heads into the 2023 season
Jones secured five Xfinity Series wins between 2019 and 2022 with Joe Gibbs Racing. Two of them at Kansas Speedway, one at Phoenix Raceway, one at Martinsville Speedway and one at Darlington Raceway.
The Georgia native showed he could win in the #19 Toyota but faced heightened expectations as he entered his first season with JR Motorsports. The reason is that he took over the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro, which Noah Gragson took to victory lane 13 times between 2020 and 2022.
Jones has finished every race in 2023, showing speed behind the wheel of the #9 Chevrolet. Although he only managed three top-20 finishes in the first seven races of the season due to incidents at the track.
Martinsville Speedway was one of Jones’ best tracks
Jones has made six starts at Martinsville Speedway in his career. Five were with Joe Gibbs Racing, the last with JR Motorsports. He has five top 10 finishes, three top 5 finishes and one win.
The only race Jones didn’t secure a top 10 finish was during the 2022 Xfinity Series playoffs. He started from pole, led 98 laps and positioned himself to win on the final lap. However, JGR teammate Ty Gibbs pushed Jones into the wall and destroyed him allowing him to take the win himself.
Rather than securing his second career trip to victory lane at Martinsville Speedway, Jones finished the race in 23rd place. He then retired from JGR with the season finale at Phoenix Raceway before taking over the #9 Chevrolet Camaro from JR Motorsports.