Jagger Jones

“He helps fund a great team, really puts in a lot of energy in having good cars and being really competitive,”

Most 17-year-old high school students are working, playing sports or preparing for college. Jagger Jones does all that, plus he is a race car driver in the Arizona Lottery 100, K&N Pro Series West Championship.

The Notre Dame Preparatory High School senior drives the No. 6 Ford for the championship team Sunrise Ford Racing, which is owned by Bob Bruncati. Jones is the son of P.J. Jones, who raced in various motorsports and won the 1993 24 Days of Daytona endurance race and his grandfather is 1963 Indianapolis 500 champ Parnelli Jones. 

Jones will make his hometown debut at the Arizona Lottery 100, K&N Pro Series West Championship, at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, after the Xfinity’s Series race at ISM Raceway. Attendance is free, but fans are encouraged to donate nonperishable food items or new toys for the Valley of the Sun United Way and those in need. The event is a 100-lap championship race in NASCAR’s developmental league.  

 “I think it is great for more people to come see our sport, to see our K&N Series, the race we put on and see the track,” Jones said. “I think once they go there, there is a good chance someone will really enjoy it. There is a higher chance they will come back the next year than never experiencing that. I think it’s a great thing for them to do.”

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jones has lived in Scottsdale since he was 4. He said Notre Dame Prep’s staff has been understanding and supportive of his occupation.   

“Of course, there are tough times with the whole going to school and racing full time,” Jones said. “It has actually been a pretty good experience. I enjoy going to a normal high school.”

He was inspired by his father and grandfather, but he’s passionate about racing. As a youngster, he raced go-karts and frequently heard everything was handed to him and he didn’t have to work for it. 

“No matter what it looks like from the outside or not, that is really not the case between going to school full time and racing,” Jones said. “I definitely put all the effort I possibly can and I try not take things for granted. I try to use all the resources I can to make the most out of my career.

“I think it really comes down to not really getting that in your head what other people think or what they say. I know who I am and I know what I am trying to do, which is win races and championships.” 

Jones has a positive attitude toward racing, and he makes it clear no one in his family forced him to race. 

“It was because I was around the sport and fell in love with it,” Jones said. “That is what motivates me to race—not my parents, my grandparents, legacy or anything like that. It really comes down to my passion and my desire. It is really what I want to do.” 

That fiery devotion for racing began at age 6 when his father bought him a go-kart for his birthday. P.J. Jones thought it would be a hobby for his son. On his ninth birthday, he received a new go-kart and got serious about racing.   

“I think the next week, my dad was like, ‘Hey, there is a race next week. Let’s just do it for fun and see how it goes,’” Jones said. “I think a month later we were starting to travel, going to the regional races, and about a year later I was racing in the national tour.”

Jones competed in Europe, where go-kart racing is popular. He represented the United States, racing against children from Asia, Europe, America, Canada and Australia. 

“That is super-cool to look back at now,” Jones said, “I went in there and got a lot of experiences that I wouldn’t have had racing in the United States.” 

After go-kart racing, he pursued stock car racing and made a name for himself in 2017 by winning his first race in Lake Havasu. 

“That was my first stock car win, so that was super-cool,” Jones said. “That was the beginning of my path to where I want to be in NASCAR, so just finding success in that and stock car oval racing.”

The following year, he raced for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Motorsports No. 88 car. He won his first of three races for JR Motorsports at Myrtle Beach Speedway. 

“That was one of the most, greatest highlights of my career so far,” Jones said. “To just drive the No. 88 car. No matter what car it is, it is pretty cool.”

He’s now racing for No. 6 Sunrise Ford Racing and admires the owner, Bob Bruncati. 

“He helps fund a great team, really puts in a lot of energy in having good cars and being really competitive,” Jones said. “Bob has given me a great opportunity and I am so grateful for that. Also, being able to work with  Bill Sedgwick, who has had success himself not only as a driver but as a crew chief.” (Sedgwick was inducted to the West Coast Stock Hall of Fame in 2004.)

The 2019 season is winding down, but the season’s last race is at his hometown track: ISM Raceway. Previously, he only raced in an i-Racing simulator. 

“I am super excited,” he said. “I have raced go-karts in the Phoenix area but that was five years ago. Since then I haven’t. 

"The closest I have raced is in Tucson once or Lake Havasu a couple times. I am excited to race in my home area."