Jones captures Dover Xfinity race, pockets $100,000

160514_NASCAR_Saturday_DJC_095

Erik Jones celebrates in Victory Lane after capturing Saturday’s XFINITY Series Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200 Dash4Cash at Dover International Speedway. (Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

DOVER — Alex Bowman proved he could still get it done in a race car after a lengthy layoff and Darrell Wallace Jr. made some NASCAR history.

But it was Erik Jones celebrating in Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway on Saturday afternoon, winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ollies Bargain Outlet 200 by leading a race-high 76 laps in the 120-lap main event.

Jones also pocketed a $100,000 bonus with the win thanks to the series’ Dash 4 Cash program. Jones was eligible for the bonus after he won his 40-lap heat race earlier in the day. It’s the second time this season Jones has earned the $100,000 payout.

Jones was one of four cars who did not pit under the final caution flag of the day. When the race went back to green, Jones held off Wallace, who finished second, and Bowman who came home third. Bowman was driving in a NASCAR event for the first time in seven months.

“[Bowman] was definitely better than us after about 35 or 40 laps but with it coming down to a short run I knew we were in a really good spot,” Jones said. “Fortunately enough people stayed out on that last caution that just let us have just enough of a gap to stay out front and bring home a win.”

Jones cleared the field thanks to a push from Wallace when the green flag dropped, soon opened up a gap of multiple car lengths and wasn’t challenged in the final few laps.

Wallace’s finish was the best by an African-American in NASCAR XFINITY Series history. It broke his own record of third place.

Wallace was another car who elected to stay out during the last yellow flag, and also was in a backup car after wrecking his primary car in practice. Bowman was the best-finishing car who took four tires before the restart with six laps to go.

“Our team, I keep saying it, we never give up,” Wallace said. “It is really a credit to my guys right here for really thrashing this thing. It is unfortunate when you do have to bring the backup car out, like we talked about earlier. We never give up and we work really hard to get some speed in this baby.”

While Jones had the fastest car on the short runs, Bowman was dominant on the race’s lone long stretch of green flag racing.

Bowman, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports in the No. 88 car, led 33 laps. He passed Jones for the lead on the 45th lap of the main event before Jones took it back after a caution and was out front for the final 32 laps.

Bowman found himself without a ride in the offseason when he was replaced from his Sprint Cup Series car after one season at Tommy Baldwin Racing. Baldwin decided to put former JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith in the Cup Series and Bowman could not find another open seat.

Bowman was able to strike a deal with JR Motorsports for nine select races this season. His next event will be at Pocono on Saturday, June 4.

When asked what he proved to the garage area with such a strong run considering the seven months off, Bowman had a simple answer.

“Hi I’m Alex Bowman and I can drive a race car still,” he said. “Hopefully my phone starts ringing and I can get some more races. Those nine races are really going to define where this goes. These nine races, I have to go win some. I have to prove that I should be here and I think winning means that. You can have these days where you lead laps and run third, but at the end of the day, Eric Jones is in Victory Lane holding the trophy and I’m not. I need to win races and hopefully this proves I can go do that.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.