If there were a Hall of Fame of all-time-great drag racing saves, Pro Modified racer Jeff Jones would undoubtedly be 2021’s inductee, after the incredible show of skill and luck he put on Sunday at the Texas NHRA FallNationals in Ennis, Texas.
Jones, a native Texan, had qualified 14th of the 16 entries at the Texas Motorplex with a 5.881-second best, more than a tenth of a second off the pole-winning run of 5.755 by Rickie Smith and well back of the 5.793 clocked by first round date, Steve Jackson. Jones, however, wasn’t shaken by the lack of lane choice or of his betting odds on beating the reigning world champ — but that he did, scoring a holeshot-aided 5.87 to 5.85 victory in the opening stanza.
If that wasn’t a show in itself, though, upsetting the champ…round two most assuredly was.
Jones was paired on the ladder with Chad Green in the quarterfinals; while Green got the win light, all eyes were on Jones’ supercharged Corvette. Jones drifted left toward the guardrail at the 330-foot mark, then hooked right toward the centerline, at which point his natural instinct was to yank the car back away from the speeding Green. Where most cars would hook and turn onto their roof, Jones seemingly benefited from the unusually wide, painted (and thus, more slick than sticky concrete) centerline, which the rear tires slid upon until air caught under its flanks and gently turned it around (if you can call facing sideways with the rear of a 2,500-plus pound car dancing in the air “gentle”). Jones spun around again and ended up facing back toward the starting line without so much as a scratch on the car. It was one of the worst crashes to not be a crash at all that we’ve seen in recent years, or perhaps ever.