03 Jul Jones Perseveres for Top 10 in the Heat of the Daytona Night
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2, 2017) – Erik Jones was caught up in a late-race spin during Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway but the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota driver recovered in overtime to earn a well-deserved ninth-place finish.
It was the fourth top-10 finish of the season for the NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
“It was an up and down night,” said Jones. “The Sport Clips Camry was up front at a few points and back at a few points – just learning and trying to figure everything out. I don’t know exactly what happened when we got spun around. I think I got up inside of somebody or somebody came down on me and just got spun around unfortunately. Still, got a decent finish out of it – top 10 at a superspeedway so that’s a good finish and some momentum for next week.”
The Furniture Row Racing driver started the 160-lap race on the 2.5-mile superspeedway from the inside of Row 9. He spent the first 40-lap stage getting comfortable in only his third Cup series superspeedway race and was 20th when the green-and-white checkered flag waved.
Jones gained invaluable superspeedway knowledge early in the second stage by leading twice for nine laps (44-47 and 49-53).
In the third and final 80-lap stage, Jones ran 22nd when the caution slowed the field on Lap 90. He restarted 24th on Lap 94 and, due to cautions and pit strategy, was 11th when the field restarted on Lap 102.
He was fifth by Lap 114 and second on Lap 121. He maintained his position in the Top 8 for the next 28 circuits.
Jones was seventh on the restart with three laps remaining but contact from behind on the back straightaway with two laps remaining sent the No. 77 Camry spinning onto the apron. He restarted at the tail end of the lead lap for the overtime finish and was able to grab ninth place when the checkered waved on Lap 163.
“Passing seemed really tough all night,” said Jones. “It seemed like wherever you got to, you had to stay there and made it kind of tough to move forward or backwards. It seemed like up until the end of the race you couldn’t do a whole lot. Just made it tough all night to get teamed up with everyone else.”
Despite the top-10 finish, Jones dropped one position, to 17th, in the point standings after 17 races. He is nine points out of 16th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the race. The balance of the top 10, in order, were: Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Michael McDowell, Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Brendan Gaughan, AJ Allmendinger, Jones and Chris Buescher.
The race had 33 lead changes among 16 drivers and there were 14 cautions for 51 laps.
The next race is Saturday night July 8 at Kentucky Speedway.