Jones, the grandson of famed racer Parnelli Jones, was seeking the win in his first career start. Jones led entering the final lap but was pinched by the lapped car of Kenny Bumbera entering Turn 1. That allowed Deegan to close and get underneath Jones’ car and make the winning pass off Turn 2. Jones charged into Turn 3 and hit Deegan’s car in the back but she held on to win.
“I thought … (Jones) is so far away, I was thinking something good is going to have to happen for me to win this race,” Deegan told NASCAR Home Tracks after the race. “He slowly started coming back, slowly starting coming back, but I’m like it’s not enough, we’re not going to catch him by the end.
“The lappers started coming up, and I was like, ‘OK, they’re helping us, they’re helping us.’ They started pulling him back, pulling him back, pulling him back. I was like, man, watch this come down to the last lap again. I’m not coming home in second. We did that last year. I ain’t going to do that again.
“I had to do something to make the move. So I shoved my nose in there, squiggled my way through that corner and just parked around the bottom of (Turns) 3 and 4 and got it done.”
Jones finished second in the 100-lap race. Joey Tanner placed third.
“Oh I think her move was fine,” Jones said. “I mean she didn’t really do anything too bad. It’s just the lapped car cut me off in front. It just pushed me up the track. Once that all happened she had a whole lane to herself. It was kind of given to her, which is unfortunate on the last lap. It just sucks sometimes.”
The next K&N Pro Series West race will be March 30 at Irwindale (California) Speedway.
What could be the start of a promising NASCAR career begins tonight at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Jagger Jones, the 16-year-old grandson of legendary racer Parnelli Jones, and son of former NASCAR and IndyCar racer P.J. Jones, will make his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut in the Star Nursery 100 (NBCSN will air the race at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday).
The third-generation racer, a junior at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona, has spent his life at racetracks. While he only saw his grandfather race on film, from a toddler on, Jagger Jones watched his father race, then climbed behind the wheel of a go-kart himself at the age of 6.
“I just really fell in love with the sport, and that was it from there,” Jones told NBC Sports. “I grew up at the racetrack, going to the races with my dad and grandpa.
“For me, it’s all I’ve known to do. When I was little, I played with toy cars. When I had dreams, they were about becoming a professional race car driver. I was always influenced by the racing scene, and that’s all I knew, honestly.”
While his grandfather and father spent time in the NASCAR Cup ranks, they’re primarily known for their success in IndyCar and off-road racing. In 1962, Parnelli Jones became the first driver to qualify at more than 150 mph for the Indianapolis 500 and then went on to win The Greatest Spectacle In Racing one year later. He also owned the team when Al Unser Sr. won the 500 in 1970 and 1971, as well as the team that won the 1970-1972 USAC National Championships.
P.J. Jones won IMSA’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 1993 and spent several years in the 1990s racing for one of his father’s best friends: Dan Gurney and his All American Racers. P.J. Jones also achieved noteworthy success in off-road racing and most recently competed in a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen in 2017.
But Jagger Jones is determined to bring the family name back to prominence in NASCAR.
“A lot of people wonder why I chose the NASCAR route and why I didn’t follow my grandpa’s route,” he said. “I know a lot about his past and he raced kind of everything and so did my dad. They both raced a lot of IndyCar, NASCAR and off-road.
“For me, I really admire all that, but I wanted to focus on just one thing, especially at this stage of my career, and I decided to go the NASCAR route. … Always being around him and at the racetrack, for sure, my grandfather has influenced me a lot. He’s been a huge supporter of my racing and he’s always helped out, especially the last few years when I moved up from go-karts to late models.
“My dad has always been a huge help in my career, as well. He’s always supported my racing, of course, and no matter what, he’s always trying to help me with sponsors, with on-track stuff and always trying to put me with the best teams, the best situation. Once I told him I wanted to become a professional race car driver, he’s always supported me and did what he could to further my racing.”
It was seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson that brought Jones to Dale Jr.’s attention.
“I’ve known (Johnson) since I was pretty little, and he’s helped me in my racing career,” Jones said. “We talk every once in a while, which is pretty cool.”
When Jones takes the green flag in tonight’s race, his grandfather’s and father’s legacies will be riding with him.
“It’s all about the desire to win, putting the work in, going out there, knowing you’re the best, that you can do this and you have the desire to win,” Jones said. “We’re not just out here for fun. Sure, you better be having fun, hopefully when you’re racing, but it’s the desire to win that’s going to really take you somewhere in your career … and doing whatever it takes.”
Jones has been looking forward to his K&N debut for the last two years. While a lot of eyes will be on him due to his surname and family pedigree, he’s prepared.
“I just want to go out there and learn,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing I’m going to do and focus on, try to learn in every session, listen to other people and really take advice.”
Jones will drive for the No. 6 Sunshine Ford team that won last year’s K&N Pro Series West championship. He’ll also have Bill Sedgwick, a six-time K&N West champion – twice as a driver (1991-92) and four times as a crew chief (2004-05, 2009 and 2013) – as his crew chief.
“I think 16 is a good age to be moving up into the K&N Series,” Jones said. “Hailie and Todd were about this age when they got their first start with the K&N West.
“People say there’s pressure and I have to perform, that it’s really a big step in my racing career. But for me, if I just do the right things, focus on learning and learning, I think I’ll be fine. I’m not too worried.”
The future will come in time
For Jones, this year’s K&N campaign is a first step toward what he hopes one day will be a move to NASCAR Cup racing. His philosophy is simple: He’ll take things one step at a time. If he enjoys success, promotion to higher series will come naturally.
“There’s a lot of drivers that have come from different backgrounds, different ages and different times, so I don’t think it’s necessary that at 22 you have to be here, at 25, you have to be this or at 18, you have to be here,” he said. “We have a basic plan where we’re doing K&N this year, maybe some ARCA races next year and maybe when I’m old enough, to go to Trucks when I’m 18.
“But really, we just have to play the way the opportunities present themselves, how I’m doing, my experience level, all of that. There’s not a set plan to follow, but definitely a basic outline of how I’m going to get to be racing Sundays full time – within the next seven years I’d say, at the most.”
While Jones’ 85-year-old grandfather won’t be in Las Vegas to watch his grandson, he will be on hand for several upcoming K&N races at tracks closer to his Southern California home. But Jagger’s father, P.J., and mom, Jolaina, will be in Las Vegas, along with Jagger’s 14-year-old brother, Jace, who is taking his older brother’s seat in Late Model racing this season.
“I’m really excited,” Jagger Jones said. “The days have been feeling longer once you get closer to a race just because you’re so anxious. But once you do some laps in practice, I think everything settles, and you have a better idea of where you’re at.
“I’ve only tested a K&N car two times, and that was both on pavement. Now, we go into a dirt race, which I’ve never raced on a dirt oval before. There’s a lot of unknown for me. I’ve been watching a lot of videos and talking with people that ran last year, just trying to get as much experience as I can get and be as prepared as I am.”
Making his own way and own name behind the wheel is on Jones’ radar. He chuckles when asked if his parents named him after Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
“My dad probably thought of that, but I wasn’t named after him,” Jones said. “It just kind of came about, and they thought it was a cool name, and they went with Jagger Jones. When you have a last name like Jones, you have to have an interesting first name.”
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West revealed its 2019 schedule Wednesday, which features 14 races and begins Feb. 28 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The schedule also includes the series’ return to ISM Raceway in Phoenix on Nov. 9 for its season finale.
The race will be one of four in three days, including the Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ final playoff elimination races.
The 100-lap K&N West race will be the series’ 45th on the 1-mile Phoenix track and its first since 2015. The series ended its 2018 season at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
“Phoenix is a destination our fans and teams of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West have really wanted to get back to,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR’s managing director for regional racing in a press release. “With all the new and exciting changes with ISM Raceway, it’s a tremendous opportunity to return, and we are very excited to be part of their NASCAR Playoff Weekend. We want to say a huge thank you to International Speedway Corporation for underscoring their commitment to grassroots racers. To be able to crown our West champion on that stage means a lot for the series.”
The addition of the Phoenix race comes after Kevin Harvick underscored the lack of a K&N event at the track after his win there last March.
“I’ve been mad at (former track president Bryan) Sperber here for a couple years now because he won’t have the K&N cars come race here because it doesn’t help his budget,” Harvick said. “One of the best things that happened for racing, it’s not just about NASCAR, was when we had the Copper Classic here. We had midgets, sprint cars. Didn’t matter how many people sat in the grandstands. As competitors, those guys, this was their Daytona. On the West Coast, this is what we thought our Daytona 500 was. This is where everybody wanted to race.
“It’s kicking those guys low on the K&N West Series that they don’t get to come and race at this particular racetrack because of the fact there’s a little bit of a pissing contest between a budget, what is right, what is wrong from a sanctioning fee side on Trucks and Xfinity. So they cut the K&N guys out.
“Cutting the grassroots side of things out is not the right way to do things. Those guys, they just want to race. This is a crown jewel race for those guys. The thought process for me is broken. When I look at our hardcore fans, they’re all sitting at those short tracks and they’re mad.”
Below is the full K&N West schedule.
Thurs., Feb. 28
Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nev.
Sat., March 30
Sat., May 11
Tucson Speedway *
Sat, June 8
Colorado National Speedway
Sat, June 22
Sat, June 29
Douglas County Speedway
Fri., July 26
Sat., Aug. 17
Sat., Aug. 24
Gateway Motorsports Park
Sat., Sept. 28
Sat., Oct. 12
All American Speedway
Sat., Oct. 26
Kern County Raceway Park
Sat., Nov. 9
* Twin 100-lap championship points races
K&N Series to hold doubleheaders with IndyCar, World of Outlaws
NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams will take part for the first time in doubleheaders with the World of Outlaws and IndyCar Series next year.
The first doubleheader, with the World of Outlaws, will take place Feb. 27 – 28 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. It serves as a lead-in for the tripleheader weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for NASCAR’s three national series.
The World of Outlaws will compete on the LVMS Dirt Track on both days of the doubleheader, holding its FVP Platinum Battery Outlaw Showdown presented by Star Nursery.
The K&N Pro Series West will hold its second race on the half-mile dirt track on Feb. 28.
The 2018 Star Nursery 100, won by Sheldon Creed, marked the first K&N Pro Series race on a dirt track since 1979.
The LVMS Dirt Track has hosted World of Outlaws events since 1996 and has held double features every spring since 2013.
The doubleheader with IndyCar will take place Aug. 24 at Gateway Motorsports Park outside St. Louis.
The K&N event is a combined race with West and East teams and is the second K&N race at the 1.25-mile track after the series debuted there this year.
IndyCar will hold its third consecutive race at Gateway after returning to the track in 2017.
The K&N/IndyCar weekend is the second doubleheader the track will host in 2019.
The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series will visit on June 22.
On Saturday night at a .250-mile track in Meridian, Idaho, Deegan knocked down the oldest of those barriers.
But she had to knock a teammate out of the way to do it.
It came on the last lap of the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 (airing at 1 p.m. ET on Friday on NBCSN), in Deegan’s 12th career start.
In her way was Cole Rouse, a 21-year-old driver also seeking his first win.
In Deegan’s ear for the final 13 laps was a cacophony of voices.
“I couldn’t even tell who was on the radio,” Deegan recalls. “I got (owner) Bill McAnally on the radio, my crew chief (Kevin Reed Jr.), got my spotter and maybe my dad (action sports star Brian Deegan), I don’t even know.”
The final 13 laps went by so fast, on Monday she thought it had just been five.
Right before the white flag, Reed told her “Do whatever you got to do to win.”
“And I knew what I had to do,” Deegan says.
Since she was a kid, Deegan has watched many videos of her racing and losing battles for position.
“It’s cool to see me excel on those (videos) and kind of get better,” says Deegan, who thought, “‘Ok, I’ve practiced, I’ve worked on my little bump-and-run things at the kart track for hours and hours. I am able to do them.'”
As Rouse dove into Turn 1, his No. 99 Toyota went high.
Deegan went low. She was so focused, she didn’t even notice the No. 77 of Andrew Koens sitting backwards on the apron.
Halfway through the turn and even with Rouse’s left-rear fender, Deegan gave him “a little budge.”
“We ran after that,” Deegan says.
NASCAR’s newest winner called her historic night in Idaho “probably the most fun I’ve had in America.”
As her 12 minute interview window winds down, Deegan says she knows more eyes will be watching and waiting for to win again.
There are two races left in the K&N West season and Deegan is fifth in the standings, 67 points back from Derek Thorn.
“Honestly, it just motivates me,” Deegan says. “It makes me feel like I’m privileged to be bombarded with media and have these opportunities, ’cause not many drivers get to have these opportunities and that’s what these drivers dream about having and that’s what makes their careers. I think being able to have all this going on is a blessing. … I think that right now it makes me feel like I just want to keep pushing even harder so I can keep kind of checking off my goals.”