Super Late Model Champion Blames Erik Jones for Almost Wrecking Him in the Final Laps of the Snowball Derby

Published 12/04/2023, 10:53 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

The Snowball Derby drew thousands to the Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, and ended up being a massive hit. Truck Series regular Ty Majeski won, but not before watching other late-model legends and a few fellow NASCAR drivers take the fall. Cup Series drivers had a largely forgettable night with none of them creating a noticeable impact on the final leaderboard.

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19-year-old Luke Fenhaus, who was crowned the champion of the “Alive for 5” Super Late Model series earlier this year, finished 8th. After doing so, he had some sharp words for Legacy Motor Club’s Erik Jones owing to a late move that Jones pulled on him.

Luke Fenhaus blames Cup Series driver Erik Jones for “dumping him”

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Luke Fenhaus had an intense race that only got more eventful towards the end. He was gunning for a highest-order finish and that did seem possible until the grid got to the final 20 laps. During the 278th lap, Erik Jones had the yellow flag brought out for caution after catching Fenhaus’s car and causing it to spin. Though the youngster managed to recover from the hurdle and eventually bypass the Big One on lap 282 to finish 8th, he did share some sharply-angled words about the contact in the post-race interview.

He said to Frontstretch, “When the #4 dumped me, he rode the center better than me. Needed to move around a little bit and try some other things.” Upon being prodded on his words later by Mark Kristl, he affirmed that Jones had in fact, “dumped him.” He continued, I heard, ‘Tight to me, Tight to me, Tight to me,’ and I was completely around. I get it, it is hard to pass and he probably tried to move me out of the way and it didn’t work. It was just a little too hard and I went around.”

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Cup Series bigshots William Byron and Erik Jones were expected to navigate the Five Flags Speedway expertly owing to their prior experiences in the Derby. Jones is also a two-time winner, but neither of them was able to lead the 50+ strong grid. Though the duo did run well enough to aspire for top-5 finishes, any hopes of doing so ended when they got caught in a Big One in the 282nd lap of the race.

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Erik Jones faces disappointment at the hands of former teammate Noah Gragson

Erik Jones’s day, in all fairness, saw some strong disappointment. The wreck that let his chances down along with William Byron’s was caused by a behind-the-wheel error by former Legacy Motor Club driver Noah Gragson. A missed shift made him collide with other cars and created a complete fiasco that neither Jones nor Byron could recover from.

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For Jones, who held the event in great regard, the incident must have left him cursing his luck. Talking about how tough the race had got since he last won it, Jones said to Frontstretch, “You know if we can go out and win or compete, I mean, that’s huge, right? It’s a great accomplishment for us. But it’s not easy at all. […] We’ve worked hard all week and made the best car we can build. We made the right changes hopefully.”

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Despite there being no issues with the car, Jones ended up on the wrong side of fate and was left waiting for at least another year before he could reclaim the trophy. He will continue to compete in the Cup Series full-time in 2024, but this year, will be driving the new Toyota Camry XSE for Legacy Motor Club.

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Written by:

Gowtham Ramalingam

365Articles

One take at a time

Hello, there! Though my affinity for racing originally stemmed from the European circuits of Formula 1 as a teen, I unexpectedly found myself drawn to NASCAR's unparalleled excitement growing up. This sport took hold of me and never let go, leading me to a career as a NASCAR writer. Over the last few months, I?ve had the chance to share my insights and observations through a myriad of articles on EssentiallySports.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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