Dream Season Lands Jones Ohio Champion
Earns Late Model Title In First Season At Columbus
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Jones had the dream first season at Columbus Motor Speedway.
Not only did the 30-year-old from Germantown, Ohio, finishing the season at the top of the Late Model standings at the Ohio track, Jones also earned the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Ohio championship.
Jones collected eight wins and 16 top fives in 19 feature race en route to his first NASCAR title.
“We never thought we’d be running for the championship at the start of the season,” Jones said. “We never felt we could win as much as we did or have the success we had. There’s a lot of talent at Columbus, so for us to win eight races is astonishing.”
It was the quest for a championship and his family’s support that drew him to Columbus.
“I’ve ran some modified and late model races at the track on-and-off for the past few years,” Jones said. “I’ve competed in the ASA National Series and the CRA Super Series and was close to a championship title in 2002, but fell short.
“I wanted to compete for a championship and racing in the late model division kept me close to home, while racing against tough competitors. It was a family affair, my dad helped with the car and my entire family came out to each race.”
In fact, he credits his success this season to his incredible support system. His is mom and dad, his girlfriend Jessica, and their son along with his crew chief, Dan Kovacevich, as well has his sponsors without them, his title hopes would have been dashed.
Jones and his No. 2 Paul Gambles Lawn Service/Kote Solutions/BMC/Manley Graphics Ford had quite the battle for the Columbus title. In one of the closest battles in track history, only three points were separating Jones, Chad Pendleton and Cody Robinson headed into Fall Speedfest.
“We got behind early in the season,” said Jones. “After we won our first race, we got into an accident in the third week that tore up our car and destroyed the body. We had to put a new body on the car and we didn’t catch up in the standings until there was a month left in the season.
“Headed into the Fall Speedfest we knew it would be a tight battle for the title and whoever got the lead would win. We couldn’t have any problems or mistakes. We battled Pendleton side-by-side for most of the night. It was a constant battle for the lead and an exciting race.”
Jones ended up spinning with just three laps to go and Pendleton was sent to the rear on the restart. Kyle Purvis took home the win, but Jones took home the title.
“It feels good to win the track title,” Jones said. “Winning eight races and the track title makes all the preparation throughout the winter and the stress we go through every week worth it.”
But it’s the Ohio championship that really tastes sweet for Jones and his team.
“I’m not saying the track championship isn’t important,” Jones stated. “But winning the state title was our ultimate goal and it feels great to accomplish it. To win both has been amazing and made our successful season feel even better.”
His dedication to the sport and his goals comes naturally to Jones. Racing has been a part of his life since he was a little kid, it’s a way of life for him and his family.
“I’ve been around racing for most of my life,” said Jones. “My dad was into racing and helped my uncle work on his race cars, so I was always around it.”
And not much has changed today.
“When I’m not in the car, I’m working on the car,” Jones said. “It’s all I do, if it’s not my car, I’m fixing up someone else’s car.”
While his plans for next season are up in the air, Jones looks forward to celebrating his successful season. He will be honored at Columbus Motor Speedway’s Gala Dinner and Awards Banquet on January 9 at the Berwick Manor Party House.
Jones will also be awarded for his track and Ohio crowns, with other track and state/province champions from across North America, as a part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participated in 2015.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
Jones’ No. 2 Paul Gambles Lawn Service/Kote Solutions/BMC/Manley Graphics Ford Rees Photos