Erik Jones just misses out on first win with third-place at Michigan

Erik Jones wheeled his way to his best-career finish — again.

Erik Jones just misses out on first win with third-place at Michigan
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota, Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota

On Sunday, the 21-year-old Byron, Michigan native matched his third-place result from Pocono Raceway in June. 

Certainly, Jones was hoping to improve on his previous mark,  particularly at his home track — Michigan International Speedway. But on the final restart, when Jones lined up second next to his teammate Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson pushed the No. 78 Toyota then split the Furniture Row Racing cars for the lead and eventually the win.

“Unfortunately I just couldn't get going,” Jones said. “I was spinning my tires. The 20 (Matt Kenseth) got to the bottom of me and the 42 (Larson) was to the right of me. I saw them both getting runs, and kind of had to pick one or the other and picked wrong, and the 42 went up the middle and was able to go by both of us.  

“Just didn't work out. Wish it would have worked out a little bit better. It was looking like a Furniture Row one‑two, kind of either way it was going to play out, so just didn't work out the way we wanted it to.”

Jones has had a solid rookie run this season with two top-five finishes and eight top 10s. He’s led 50 laps — including five circuits on Sunday. 

The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series rookie knows his day will come. But it’s hard not wondering what might  have been.

“Yeah, I mean, for sure,” Jones said. “We got that red flag, and it gives you a lot of time to at least play through different scenarios on the restart and how you want it to work out. It's very rare it actually works out the way you picture in your head, but yeah, you definitely ponder what that would be like.  

“You know, seemed like right off the bat on the restart Martin and I would kind of match lap times for a few laps, and Martin would start to inch away after a couple laps. I knew we had a shot right on the restart. We were just as quick I felt like right off the bat, and it would have been nice to be able to seal the deal for sure.”

Although the No. 77 FRR team made its debut this season, Jones has had his share of opportunities. The biggest transition for Jones from running in the Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series was upping his commitment when it comes to pre-race preparation.

“I think the trucks and the Xfinity Series you didn't really have to prepare at all, at least I guess I didn't, and it kind of worked out most of the time,” Jones said. “And then you get to the Cup Series, and you do that, and it's like, well, you kind of feel a little bit out to lunch when you show up and you're off the pace and things aren't working out.       

“So I've really tried harder I would say after the first quarter of the year to really focus in and try to prepare better, look at the data, use the tools that are available to me and try to improve. I think just going through the year and coming back to these tracks for a second time is a big help for us, as well, at least it is for me. I know better throughout the day what I'm looking for in a race car, and what I want is a feel in the race car through practice.  

“So performance wise I think we've up and down. We've had good days. We've had bad days.  We've had days where we should have run better, and we've had days where we ran better than we should have.  It's been up and down, like I said, but overall, I think we've done a pretty good job.”

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