Cup rookie Erik Jones was glad to get "settled in" at Atlanta

After a rough start to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season in Daytona, Erik Jones was ready to get “settled in” for the rest of the season.

Cup rookie Erik Jones was glad to get "settled in" at Atlanta
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on the grid
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota pit stop
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota, Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Ty Dillon, Germain Racing Chevrolet, are involved in an on-track incident
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

And for the most part, the results at Atlanta were much more to the rookie’s liking.

In fact, at one point during Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jones was top-running Toyota entry and the only one in the top-10.

Some late-race cautions, dropped the Furniture Row Racing driver to a 14th-place finish, but that’s still his second-best performance in five career Cup races.

“It’s nice just to get settled in. When you go to Daytona and Talladega, they’re kind of their own animals and you come here and you really get to see what you’ve got for the year, so I felt like we weren’t quite where we needed to be,” Jones said after the race. 

“I thought we were a seventh- to ninth-place car most of the day. It seemed like were ran around there, maybe a little farther back, all day. We came in for the last pit stop, put tires on and just got super tight.

“I’m not sure why that happened, but it’s unfortunate. I wish we could have went up there further up in the running order and finished where we deserved, where our car was capable of. It was a good day overall, though.”

Jones had struggled at Daytona, first with his having difficulties in the inspection process and then he got involved in a wreck in the 500 and only completed 103 of the 200 laps.

Jones’ crew chief, Chris Gayle, said he felt he put Jones a little behind on the Atlanta race but spending more time in qualifying trim in Friday’s practice session.

“He did a great job in getting up through the field. We really should have run in the top 10 all day until that last stint,” Gayle said. “Going into the day, I felt like if we got a top-15 or top-20 finish I was going to be happy with the day.

“It was Erik’s first time in a Cup car here and he did exceptional. We just didn’t end it as strong as we thought we were.”

The Cup series moves to Las Vegas this weekend, where Jones owns a 2014 victory in the Truck series and finished third in last season’s Xfinity Series race.

“Racing as well as we did at Atlanta definitely helps my confidence headed into Las Vegas and the rest of the NASCAR 'Goes West' swing,” Jones said. “We ran well most of the day and felt like we should have finished better but it just didn’t work out on the last restart. It was the first time our Furniture Row Racing team really had a chance to see what we have so we just need to keep building each week. "

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