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15 Year old Eric Jones to make ARCA Debut
Erik Jones To Make His ARCA Debut
TOLEDO, OH (February 29, 2012) - Beginning with next week's Mobile ARCA 200 at Mobile International Speedway, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will allow approved and certified 15-year-old drivers to compete on tracks one mile in length or shorter.
Erik Jones, a Byron, Mich. driver who will not turn 16 until late May, plans to be the first 15-year-old competitor in the 60 years of ARCA's national tour. Jones is entered at the Irvington, Ala. half-mile in Venturini Motorsports' No. 55 Chevrolet, one of 36 cars on the current entry list but the only one featuring a driver who is not yet 16.
"I can't thank everybody enough, those who made this possible," Jones (pictured) said recently. "To be able to run with the caliber of a team like Venturini Motorsports is one of the biggest opportunities I've ever had in my career. I have to thank ARCA for lowering the age limit to let 15-year-olds squeeze into the short track races. This is definitely one of the coolest things I've had come along in my whole career, so I can't be more excited for this opportunity. I hope to get a few wins this year."
Jones began his career at age 7 in 2004, racing quarter midgets in Michigan. He made his stock car debut in 2009 at Owosso Speedway in Ovid, Mich., quickly moving to the challenging Pro Stock division. Jones won a feature and the track's Pro Stock Rookie of the Year Award.
In 2010, Jones moved to the ASA Late Model Northern Series, becoming the youngest winner in series history at age 14. He finished the year having led the most laps in the series on the way to the Rookie of the Year title. Jones won the first JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour championship in 2011 with wins at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway and Owosso, and later won the Governor's Cup, a prestigious Florida super late model event.
Another young driver making his ARCA debut at Mobile is Tyler Reddick, a 16-year-old Californian who now lives in DuQuoin, Ill. and will race for Ken Schrader Racing. "The California Kid" has over 120 career wins, three national championships, and five Rookie of the Year titles as a dirt super late model driver. He is the youngest driver to start a World of Outlaws feature event, the youngest to win at the East Bay Winter Nationals, and the youngest to win a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature event.
"I'm really excited to race with Ken Schrader," Reddick said. "We've had a great relationship for a long time, racing at his track (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55) in Pevely, Mo. Other than racing a bandolero car three or four times, all my racing so far has been on dirt, so this will be my first start in a stock car on pavement."
Reddick's car will be sponsored by two record labels: Broken Bow Records, featuring artist Jason Aldean; and Stoney Creek Records, featuring artist Thompson Square.
The wave of young drivers does not stop with Jones and Reddick. Clint King, the 16-year-old who won the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell on his birthday last August at Madison, Wis. and later won a pole at Salem, Ind. for Venturini Motorsports, will also race at Mobile.
Chase Elliott, a Hendrick Motorsports development driver and the son of NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet. Elliott plans to make five ARCA starts in 2012, including events at New Jersey in July, Berlin (Mich.) and Madison in August, and Salem in September. The 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Most Popular Driver, Elliott turned 16 in November, just one week before winning the Snowball Derby.
The Mobile ARCA 200 will take place Saturday, March 10 at Mobile International Speedway. The race is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Mobile will host practice and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell on Friday, March 9. The event at Mobile will be ARCA's first at the track.