Thursday, December 10, 2009

Buckshot Jones

Roy "Buckshot" Jones was born on July 23, 1970 in Monticello, Georgia. If anyone (Except for maybe Lake Speed) had a name that says "NASCAR Racer", then Buckshot Jones has got it.

Jones earned the nickname "Buckshot" from his grandfather after he ran into a table and showed no signs of pain. His racing career began as a hobby during his studies at the University of Georgia. Jones originally wanted to race motocross, but his dad suggested stock cars since they were safer.

After Jones sixth race he went out to dinner with his father, where he told him that he wanted to be a NASCAR champion. He and his father then developed a six-year plan that would allow Jones to move up the ladder and begin to fulfill his dream, and it worked to an extent.

In 1995, Jones moved to the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series with his own team called Buckshot Racing. After a disappointing rookie campaign where his best finish was a ninth at South Boston Speedway, Jones hired Ricky Pearson, son of the legendary David Pearson, as his crew chief. Jones won two races over the next three years. During this time, he gained a reputation as an overaggressive driver who caused many crashes.

Buckshot won his first NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) series Race at The Milwaukee Mile in 1996.

Randy LaJoie and Buckshot had a feud that began during a 1997 event at Talladega, and then continued with a memorable incident at Bristol in which Jones rammed LaJoie's machine under caution.

Jones won his second and last Busch (Nationwide) series race at New Hampshire International Speedway in 1998. He also was voted the Most Popular Driver in the Busch (Nationwide) Series. But those weren’t the only exciting thing that happened to Buckshot in 1998. Buckshot’s and Randy’s feud was still alive, and as heated as ever. At Nazareth, with LaJoie's car left in a heap following contact with Jones just five laps into the race. Their confrontations were really amazing, and almost always resulted in comments that were heated. When Jones and LaJoie started talking about each other, any kind of politically correct filtering went out the window.

Just like this confrontation which happened right after the incident at Nazareth. "The kid's got the best race cars out there, and he can't drive a lick," said a furious LaJoie "I feel sorry for his race team because if they had a racecar driver in that car, it'd be hard to beat. It's just pitiful that we have to race against somebody with such good equipment [and] such little talent. I never had a feud. I just don't talk to him, I don't like him and he keeps running into me. I ain't done nothing to that idiot for a year and a half."

In 1999, after marrying his long-time girlfriend, Jina, he made the jump to Winston (Sprint) Cup driving the #00 Pontiac, with Ricky's brother Larry Pearson taking over his Busch (Nationwide) ride. Crown Fiber was the major sponsor of the car. The results, however, were disappointing. He failed to qualify several times, including the first two races of the season. On the occasions in which he did make the field, a DNF was the typical result. After nine starts, he decided to end his bid for Rookie of the Year.

In 2000, Jones struggled to return to the level his career had previously attained. He made 32 Busch (Nationwide) Series starts and finished 21st in points, with one top-five and three top-10 finishes. Buckshot started only one Winston (Sprint) Cup race that year, the NAPA 500 on Nov 20th at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, in that final race of 2000, Buckshot started from the 29th position and finished 37th and brought home $35,275.

In 2001 he returned to the Cup Series full time, while facing the daunting task of participating in Petty Enterprises switch from Pontiac to Dodge, with Dodge coming back after a 20 year absence, while driving the number 44 Georgia-Pacific Dodge. Unfortunately for him, even though he nearly doubled his career starts in the Winston (Sprint) cup series with 30 out of the 36 races that year, the results were only slightly better than his previous years.

By the MNBA 400 at Atlanta in March the word was out that Buckshot was soon to be fired despite a 12th place finish, his best ever with Petty Enterprises. The funniest thing about it all was the hot rumor that Joe Nemechek was a leading candidate for the ride. Meanwhile, Buckshot finished off his career with Petty with a somewhat respectable 19th the next week at Darlington, 40th place at Bristol, a 26th place at Texas, and his final race with Petty was a 33rd place finish at Martinsville that ended with a crash on lap 483.

Steve Grissom, a former Craftsman (Camping World) truck driver was called up from Petty's engine shop to take over the #44 car at Talladega the next week. Grissom piloted that ride to a stunning 25th place finish at Talladega. Amidst a flurry of Silly Season rumors, Grissom piloted the #44 car until July, and then returned to his role with Petty in the engine shop, when Kyle hired a new driver for the remainder of 2002. The irony of this is that they driver was Jerry Nadeau, who was released from his #25 ride with Rick Hendrick in May. What makes this ironic is not that Nadeau was hired by Petty, but that Rick Hendrick hired none other than Front Row Joe to pilot the #25.

Buckshot has since sold his team and temporarily retired from racing. He last appeared in a NASCAR sanctioned race in 2004, when he ran two Busch (Nationwide) Series events. He is now 38 years old and works in land development and real estate in Gwinnett County, GA, and he maintains primary custody of his two sons, Kolton, 7 and Levin, 6. He returned to auto racing in the Snowball Derby in December 2006 but finished last after being caught in an early accident. Currently he runs the #00 Chevrolet for DMT Motorsports in the Southern Division of the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series.