Conner Jones arrived at Caraway Speedway with confidence and a brand new ride.
Instead of piloting the No. 14 for Mike Darne, the 15 year-old CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour rookie climbed behind the wheel of GMS Racing’s car in a one-off appearance for Saturday evening’s David “Lightning” Saunders Memorial 125.
Jones, who competed in an ARCA Menards Series East race at Fairgrounds Speedway the week before, is optimistic that his performances with GMS will allow him to keep progressing through the developmental ladder.
“Everything went pretty well,” Jones said. “We only signed one-race deals but I think we made the most out of everything we did with them.”
After bringing home a solid fourth place finish in GMS’ ARCA car, Jones had every reason to believe he could achieve a similar outcome at Caraway in a Late Model Stock.
Jones had to start the 125-lap feature from the 20th position but he patiently worked his way towards the front of the field and found himself on the cusp of a Top 5 finish with just five laps to go.
Jones’ charge to the front came to an abrupt halt when he made contact with Daniel Silvestri while battling him for fifth. Silvestri ended up losing control of his car and made significant contact with Jones’ right side door.
The damage proved to be too severe for Jones to continue on with and he brought his car into the pits shortly before the last restart, which placed him 16th out of the 22 starters.
“[Daniel] and I just got together,” Jones said. “That was a racing deal and stuff like that tends to happen in racing. We’ll move on and come back stronger than ever.”
Despite coming up short of his first CARS LMSC Tour Top 10 at Caraway, Jones said that his time with GMS has been helpful in his transition to full-time Late Model Stock racing.
The next two stops on the CARS LMSC Tour calendar in Langley Speedway and Dominion Raceway are familiar tracks for Jones, who sees those races as ideal opportunities for him to finally break through for his first victory.
“I want to win races,” Jones said. “I think we’ll have a pretty good chance of winning at Langley and Dominion because I’ve raced at both of those tracks all my life. We won in a Legends car at Dominion the weekend before Caraway, so I think we can get another one in a Late Model Stock.”
With no more CARS LMSC Tour races schedule with either GMS or Darne, Jones will be on his third team of the 2021 season when the series heads to Langley on June 5, which he will announce in the coming days.
Jones remains undeterred by all of the recent changes and is ready to carry over the momentum from his brief stint at GMS into the summer.