FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Brandon Jones, driver of the #33 South Point Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR XFINITY Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
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2016 Season in Review: Brandon Jones

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Brandon Jones

CREW CHIEF: Mike Hillman Jr.

TEAM: Richard Childress Racing

POINTS: 10th

WINS: 0

LAPS LED: 36 (career-high)

TOP 5s: 0

TOP 10s: 12 (career-high)

POLES: 0

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Jones qualified for the inaugural Chase in his rookie Xfinity Series season. Went on to finish top 10 in points … Improved his laps led as well as average finish from the five starts he made in 2015 … Earned a career-high 12 top-10 finishes and did not record a single DNF. Also completed 99 percent of the laps on the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Failed to earn a win or a top-five finish in 2016 … Jones did not advance out of the first round of Chase after falling into a deficit after crashing in the first race at Kentucky Speedway … finished third in Rookie of the Year points.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2017: Jones will return for a sophomore season at RCR where he’ll seek his second Chase appearance and first career win.

Kyle Larson fastest in Xfinity Series practice at Homestead

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 05:  Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENEOS Chevrolet, celebrates winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
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Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney were fastest in opening Xfinity Series practice Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Larson clocked in with a lap of 168.177 mph. Blaney was second fastest with a lap of 167.530 mph.

Championship contender Erik Jones was third fastest with a lap of 167.328 mph, Alex Bowman was fourth fastest at 167.069 mph, and another Chase contender, Daniel Suarez (166.795 mph) rounded out the top five.

The rest of the top 10 were Brandon Jones (166.770 mph), Aric Almirola (166.512 mph), Ty Dillon (166.338 mph), Brendan Gaughan (166.026 mph), and Matt Tifft (165.990 mph).

Elliott Sadler, also competing for the championship, was 11th fastest at 165.822 mph, while his teammate and the final championship contender, Justin Allgier was 16th fastest at 164.609 mph.

During the 1 hour, 25-minute session, three cars found trouble.

Sadler hit the wall in Turn 4, damage his Chevrolet. Tifft also hit the wall in Turn 4. Ryan Blaney scraped the wall at the entry to Turn 3.

Click here for complete practice speeds from Xfinity practice

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Xfinity Chase grid: Ty Dillon out, Blake Koch advances

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The first round of the inaugural Xfinity Chase has concluded and with it came the exit of Ty Dillon from title title contention. Also eliminated were Brandon Jones, Brennan Poole and Ryan Sieg.

Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez advanced to the second round with their respective wins at Kentucky Speedway and Dover International Speedway.

Joining them in the second round is Blake Koch, who drives for Kaulig Racing, a single-car team. Filling out the Round of Eight is Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Erik Jones and Darrell Wallace Jr.

Jones, Suarez and Sadler are the only Xfinity Series regulars who have won races this season.

Click here to view the full Xfinity Chase grid.

Kyle Larson fastest in final Xfinity Series practice at Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 21:  Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, walks on the grid prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Kyle Larson was fastest in final Xfinity Series practice Thursday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a lap of 185.198 mph.

Erik Jones, looking to avoid Chase elimination in the Charlotte cutoff race, was second at 184.995 mph with Joey Logano third (184.856 mph), Daniel Suarez (184.332 mph) fourth, and Brandon Jones (184.150 mph) fifth. Larson and Logano are two of five Sprint Cup Series drivers entered in Friday night’s Drive for the Cure 300.

Rounding out the top 10 were Blake Koch (183.830 mph), Justin Allgaier (183.592 mph), Ty Dillon (183.411 mph), Ryan Sieg (182.803 mph), and Austin Dillon (182.636 mph).

There was a brief red flag during the session when Brandon Hightower got loose and crashed off Turn 4.

Click here to see the speeds from final Xfinity Series practice:

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Xfinity Series Spotlight: Brandon Jones

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 15: Brandon Jones, driver of the #33 Check Into Cash Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 14, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Brandon Jones was a fan of team owner Richard Childress long before he had the chance to drive for him.

“I think it was my first race at Las Vegas,” Jones told NBC Sports. “He was in a hurry, Richard’s always in a hurry, but I was like, ‘Hey!’ I didn’t even know what to say to him. And now, thank gosh last year I got an opportunity to drive with him a little bit, and now we’re best friends. You can come in his office and kick back and have a normal conversation, so it’s great.”

Jones, now 19, was given a five-race opportunity in 2015. After earning two top-five finishes, Jones received a full-time ride for 2016 driving the No. 33 Chevrolet.

“It was a grin on my face, that’s for sure,” Jones said about getting the phone call.

It was also a huge relief because Jones had contemplated many different career paths, such as the military or welding. Cars were always a love of his though and Jones isn’t one to be idle for too long or work behind a desk.

The Rookie of the Year candidate qualified for the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase on the strength of 11 top-10 finishes.

Entering Saturday’s race at Dover International Speedway, Jones has work to do if he wants to advance in the Chase. A 26th-place finish at Kentucky Speedway has put him 11th on the Chase grid. But there’s no other team he would rather be with in that position.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: The Gales (Bubba and Cale) played a huge role in getting your racing career started, how did you connect with them?

Jones: I didn’t come from a family that was in NASCAR or any form of racing, but we’ve always been car people. We met Cale through Kevin Harvick Inc. when he was driving the Rheem car, and knew some people at Rheem through their contact and just got to know Cale really well. One day we got invited to go down to Mobile, Alabama, to drive a Legends car with him and his dad to see how we liked it and to hang out down there in his hometown. Ended up falling in love with it as soon as I got in that thing.

His dad was also helping another kid in Georgia where we were living at the time, Spencer Davis, so we went out there after school every day and drove his truck. We’d take turns and then it led to my family getting a truck with him. Then we did the same thing but with our own vehicles, and we had just one big race at the end of the year and started the next year off with the full-time season in that super truck division. Lanier (Raceplex) and Gresham (Motorsports Park) were the two tracks that we ran, so that’s kind of how I got my start. I did that for a year before we moved on to a Late Model division; then started working in the K&N Series some, followed by ARCA.

NBC Sports: You started out at an older age than what is considered the norm, so did you feel like you had to work harder to earn your way?

Jones: I was 13 when I started, and six or seven is the go-kart age usually. I think we did it right. We didn’t just jump right into a race; we started just by running laps. We’d have headsets on and two-seaters and all kinds of stuff. I think that helped me kind of catch up with everything. You could tell when Spencer (Davis) was out there with me because he had thousands of go-kart races (under his belt) before we had raced the trucks, which is so different but still, he had that racing background and he had that mindset of how to win a race. So you could tell the confidence level for sure, but I feel like now I’m starting to level off with everybody and get really comfortable with these cars.

NBC Sports: There’s an actor named Brandon Jones who is also on Twitter with a very similar handle to yours, have you ever gotten tagged in his tweets?

Jones: Oh yeah, for sure. I probably got some of their followers, too. You can tell, ‘That one was probably not meant to follow me.’ (Musician) Colt Ford and people like that. It’s pretty cool.

NBC Sports: Being an outdoors person, what do you enjoy doing away from racing?

Jones: Bow hunting, fishing, things like that. All that stuff is so time-consuming, it’s like you don’t just go out there and pull your bow and be able to take a kill with an animal. Every day you’re trying to perfect yourself, so it’s pretty time-consuming. I try to go to the shop at least once or twice a week and then with the days I’m not racing I fill with bow shooting; I like tactical shooting, three-gun type stuff, so every day I’m slammed full.

NBC Sports: How did you get interested in wood building?

Jones: It was one of those YouTube things. You’re watching a video and then it’s like, ‘Oh, what is this?’ We’ve been doing all kinds of cool projects. My girlfriend, she loves to do pallet board type stuff, so we’ve been getting into that some. I built a really big outdoor farm table before, woodsheds, so we’ve done some pretty big stuff in the past, but I’ve tried to keep it small now.

NBC Sports: Have you ever gotten hurt doing anything outdoorsy or while building something?

Jones: I’ve never gotten hurt but frustrated, for sure. I have probably doubled my pricing in wood because I would cut one thing and I’ll be like, ‘This is not even matching up’ and I have to go back to Lowe’s and buy a whole new sheet or board. It was a pain in the beginning but I think it’s another thing you learn how to make mistakes and now I’ve gotten to where I know how to measure everything out.

NBC Sports: You have an interest in antique cars, correct?

Jones: Yeah, we had three cars built that we found behind barns rusted up. We kind of did a big transformation on them. I’ve got a Camaro with an RCR sp2 Xfinity motor in it from previous years; it’s a pretty cool little piece. My favorite one is my great grandfather’s truck that we had completely redone. We put a huge motor in it and painted it and everything, but it’s a got original wood and bed and everything.

NBC Sports: If you were to describe your personality would a Southern boy in jeans and boots and always outside be accurate?

Jones: Yep. Extremely outdoorsy. I just enjoy time out there and time on the ranch. I love, love being in the woods and being away from the city-type. I’ve done both. I’ve been in the city before, grew up in Atlanta, so I was dead smack in the middle of everything, and I think that’s why I probably grew so much to the country fields. It’s pretty funny, my dad laughs at me because they used to do 2,000 head of cattle when he was growing up my age so he grew up in the country life and now he’s like, ‘I gotta get away from it and be in the city.’ But I did it opposite; I’m into the cows and the farming and all that stuff, so he laughs and says a little bit of that wore off on me.

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