The 2020 season of Formula Drift competition came to an exciting close this past weekend at Irwindale Speedway with Jeff Jones realizing his goal of being a Top 10 competitor in the Pro class.
“What a season!” said Jones, driver of the Edelbrock-supercharged Nissan Z-Car after his second Final 4 finish of the year. Jeff narrowly missed what would’ve been his first Pro podium after a heated match with Justin Pawlak in the Roush Mustang. “Irwindale has always pushed back so hard on my team,” said Jeff after the race. “Friday was my first Top 16 ever at Irwindale, but we lost an exhaust valve due to a faulty crank sensor wire that night. Thankfully, I have an amazing group of friends and sponsors. CPR Engines got us what we needed to get the engine back together, and Ish from Westech Performance opened up the shop to fix the wiring gremlins. My awesome friends and team helped bang out the rebuild to get us back on the track to kill it on Sunday.”
The pivotal moment for Jones came in the final round during run #2 of the Great 8. After a Top 16 bye, Jones and the Edelbrock Nissan faced a tough match-up with COMP Cams driver Taylor Hull who campaigns the only Cadillac ATS-V in the field. The battle in run #1 was close but Jones advanced to his second Final 4 appearance of the year when Hull lost the drift in the second run.
“My goal since I started in Formula Drift in 2009 was to be a Top 10 driver,” said Jeff, reflecting on the many challenges that all of the teams faced during a rescheduled 2020 season. “Thanks to the support of our sponsors, Jeff Jones Racing finished 2020 in 9th place overall! This has been over a decade in the making for us.” Already looking ahead to the next season of competition, Jones said, “We will get to that podium and be a championship-contending team in 2021…I can’t wait!”
The Top 10 report from Formula Drift said, “Jeff Jones solidifies he is the future of Formula Drift.” He’s been so impressive “with his ability to outperform drivers with bigger crews and way bigger budgets.” Given the right circumstances, The Jeff Jones Racing team will be a dominating force in 2021.
Brian Hatano is a veteran automotive journalist and former editor of Car Craft, Petersen’s Drag Racing, Sport Compact Car and Motorcyclist magazines.