Updated at: 03/16/2013 12:39 PM
(AP) BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kyle Busch Motorsports has signed 16-year-old Snowball Derby winner Erik Jones to a five-race schedule.
Jones will make his NASCAR national debut in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway on April 6 driving the No. 51 Toyota for KBM.
He caught Busch’s eye last December when Jones raced side-by-side by with him and eventually passed Busch to win the 45th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. The race is considered the most prestigious late-model event in the country and the field included NASCAR regulars Busch, David Ragan, Johanna Long and up-and-comers Chase Elliott, Ross Kenseth and John Hunter Nemechek.
"I’ve been around Erik a few times running late models, he’s a good kid and a good driver, so we’re excited to be adding him to the crop of young talent we’ve assembled at KBM this season," Busch said. "He did a nice job practicing my late model at Nashville last year for the All-American 400 and then he raced me hard and clean in the closing laps of the Snowball Derby to win that race. Doing those types of things is how you get recognized in this sport."
Jones last year became the first 15-year-old driver ever to compete in the ARCA Racing Series. He ran 10 races, posted four top-fives and five top-10s while leading 103 laps.
Now, thanks to a NASCAR rule change that allows 16 and 17 year olds to run Truck Series races at tracks 1.1-miles or less, Jones will get his chance. He’s also slated to drive for KBM at Rockingham, both Iowa races and a track yet to be determined.
"Kyle is a driver that I have always looked up to and have a lot of respect for, so to be able to make my Truck Series debut in one of his Tundras is something I would have never imagined," Jones said. "This is definitely the biggest opportunity of my career. I’ve always wanted to drive in NASCAR, so I am really looking forward to getting on the track in Martinsville in a few weeks and being able to evaluate where I stand against the great mix of veterans and young talent that the Truck Series offers."
KBM also has 19-year-old Darrell Wallace Jr. and Joey Coulter and Parker Kligerman, who are both 22, in its stable.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)