Just a week ago in this column, I was going over a list of drivers to keep an eye on to compete for the 2013 version of the Indiana Sprint Week for the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series.
One driver I mentioned was five-time USAC National Sprint Car Series champion Levi Jones. In that column I noted that if Jones opted to chase all the events scheduled for ISW aboard Jeff Walker’s No. 39, he would be one of many capable of earning the coveted title.
Last Friday, Jones announced his plans to retire, effective immediately.
Prior to the season at Walker’s Noblesville race shop during the unveiling of the Don Walker Special No. 39 that Jones piloted most of the season, one could sense that Jones’ priorities had shifted considerably from what they were just a few short seasons ago.
He noted that chilly, late-winter afternoon that he was wanting to scale back his racing, opting to drive Walker’s car as well as Jack Rogers’ No. 57. He was still solid aboard Tony Stewart’s USAC Silver Crown mount, but that season consists of just 10 races.
Jones was racing’s equivalent of a basketball gym rat.
Walker talked about how a young Jones was always hanging around, eager to learn and even more eager to earn a living as a race car driver. That was long before he captured his first national championship while driving the Scott Benic-owned No. 2B.
Following that first title in 2005, Jones joined forces with Stewart and TSR and proceeded to capture sprint championships in 2007, ‘09, ‘10 and ‘11. He also won a pair of Silver Crown titles for TSR in ‘10 and ‘11.
So, it really shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise to hear that Jones was calling it quits. Having toiled and worked his way to the top of USAC’s ranks for 15 years to become one of the most successful in the sanctioning bodies history, running nearly 100 races or more each year, he probably had done enough.