LAS VEGAS – There was no shortage of disappointment on the part of Jagger Jones Thursday night, after the third-generation driver narrowly missed out on his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win in the Star Nursery 100.
Jones led the white-flag lap at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but got held up in lapped traffic in turns one and two, allowing Hailie Deegan to dive underneath him and steal the victory away.
It was a sour ending for the 16-year-old grandson of former Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, who took over driving for former series champion Derek Thorn at Sunrise Ford Racing this season and had the checkered flag squarely in his sights on the final trip around the half-mile dirt oval.
“Hailie definitely had a little more speed at the end,” Jones lamented. “I think I would’ve held her off no problem, but a lapped car cut me off … pushed me right into the inside tires on the last lap and I had to avoid those. Once I did, it slid me up the track and Hailie was just able to get underneath me.
“I tried to move her a bit in (turns) three and four, but she was expecting it. Man, I wanted that win.”
Jones held no ill will towards Deegan, however, noting that it wasn’t her fault the sequence of events played out how it did on the last lap.
“Oh, I think her move was fine,” Jones said of Deegan’s winning maneuver. “I mean, she didn’t really do anything too bad. It’s just the lapped car cut me off in front. It just pushed me up the track. Once that all happened, she had a whole lane to herself on the bottom.
“I feel like that win was kind of given to her, which is unfortunate on the last lap. It just sucks sometimes.”
After taking the top spot from Derek Kraus on a lap-69 restart, Jones paced 31 straight circuits around the Vegas half-mile and appeared to have winning speed in his No. 6 XYO Network Ford.
“I think I was pretty consistent throughout the whole race. I think Hailie just started to put it together down the stretch,” Jones noted. “She had speed, but I don’t think she was as consistent for a while. I don’t know exactly when she started closing, because I couldn’t hear much on the radio … but she was there when it mattered, obviously.”
Jones now hopes to turn the disappointment of a near-miss in Las Vegas into motivation for the future.
“I’m definitely upset with how it ended and controlling myself, but it’s more about the situation,” Jones admitted. “I’ll learn from this one and come back that much better next time.”