Conner Jones and his team have announced that they will be full-time competitors in the CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car series. This will be the 14-year-old driver’s first foray into full-time Late Model Stock Car competition. They plan to run the entire season and compete for the year-long points championship.
“Until the CARS Tour, I’ve never been on a tour of any kind,” Jones stated. “The only tour I’ve ever done was racing in the Southeast Legends Series. Jeff Jordan helped us with running some Legends races in Charlotte.”
Jones only got into racing Late Models recently, he was a standout as a young kid in Legends cars and he has run in a few Late Model Stock Car races in addition to his recent entry into Pro Late Models.
Jones started off the 2021 racing season with a very strong showing in the Pro Late Model division at New Smyrna Speedway. Jones won two features during the World Series of Asphalt. His second-place finish in the overall point standings after a week-long battle with Kody Swanson was impressive considering he had never run in the division before they arrived in Central Florida in February.
Jones turned heads with consistently strong runs, he had a shot at the World Series title had he not been spun off of the bumper of Kody Swanson as they were checking up for a spinning car ahead of them in the World Series Final. He wasn’t sure when the next Pro Late Model event would be after tearing up his car on the final night at New Smyrna.
The 2021 CARS Tour season will begin on March 6th at Dillon Motor Speedway. The strategy for the year for the young upstart was also something he mentioned at New Smyrna Speedway.
“Top fives, if we can just stack together top fives and run consistently well if a win slips in we’ll take it, but enough top fives and we could win the CARS Tour championship,” Jones explained. “It’s going to be really hard, this is a really hard one to win. One of our goals for now is just to win a tour race.”
The 2021 season includes the Fredericksburg Virginia native’s home track, Dominion Raceway. Like last year’s unpredictable season, the schedule has been shaping up to be another situation of changes. The original opening date at Rockingham Raceway was pushed to October 30th for the championship round. Jones isn’t optimistic about taking Late Models to “The Rock”.
Although Jones is not officially a touring 12 driver on the CARS Tour, he hopes to learn from those veteran drivers and others to carve his path into full-time Late Model racing. Their main focus will be running CARS Tour Late Model Stocks but he will also compete in a few one-off NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car events throughout the season.
Most that follow CARS Tour racing and other short-track trends around the country are bearing witness to younger and younger drivers that also have great skills. The CARS Tour has already had drivers like Mini Tyrell perform at a very young age. The marketability for the next youth movement is a large factor for companies looking to attach their brand to a fresh face.
Jones is still open for more sponsorship opportunities for the season but he has his dad’s company, Jones Utilities, on the side panels and Resurface Inc. on the hood of his Chevrolet. It is hard not to be impressed with the maturity level of a 14-year-old driving a full-sized stock car. It is amazing just how quickly the talent of the next generation of racing youth develops.
Cover photo by Bridger Swinimer.