NASCAR rookie Erik Jones knows he has "all the pieces" to win
Fresh off his career-best finish, rookie Erik Jones is looking for more.
Jones weathered the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600, and the nearly one hour- 40-minute rain delay during it Sunday night to earn a seventh-place finish.
Not only was it Jones’ best in his rookie career, but it also ended a tough three-race stretch that included no finish better than 22nd and wrecking out of two races.
Jones and his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing team had their own obstacles at Charlotte Motor Speedway as debris from a competitor’s car damaged the nose of his No. 77 Toyota early in the race.
“I think getting that damage early put us behind the eight-ball and the car wasn’t the same the rest of the night but we have to be happy with our best finish of the season,” Jones said. “It was good to get a solid top-10 finish because it’s definitely something to build on.
“This is what we needed after some tough races. I think we were even a little bit better than the finish but the hole in the nose early kept us from ever getting the balance (on the car) the same again.”
Jones is now 18th in the series standings after 12 races, 10 points behind Ryan Newman for 17th and 32 behind Matt Kenseth for 15th. He is currently second in rookie standings, 10 behind leader Daniel Suarez.
Jones now turns his attention to Dover (Del.) International Speedway, a track where he has had success in both the Camping World Truck and Xfinity series.
He has four previous starts, he finished third in the 2015 Truck race and finished ninth, first and 16th in three Xfinity races. In May 2016, he led 76 laps en route to his Xfinity series victory at the track.
“Dover is a track I really enjoy and I’ve had it marked on the calendar since the beginning of the year,” Jones, 21, said. “We’ve always been fast there and it’s a track I’ve always felt pretty comfortable on.
“I had some success early in my career at high-banked tracks like Winchester (Ind.) Speedway so that’s helped me at Dover. But they call it ‘The Monster Mile’ for a reason so it’s a place where you have to be at your best all day.”
Jones said the Charlotte performance served as a reminder that his team has what it takes to contend for wins alongside his teammate and series points leader, Martin Truex Jr.
“Furniture Row Racing is strong right now. Martin was really strong (at Charlotte),” Jones said. “It’s cool to be a part of it and cool to drive fast race cars. It’s always fun to show up and drive cars that can contend for wins.
“We just needed a good, solid finish to remind ourselves that we have all the pieces; it’s just a matter of getting everything in sync and working together. We can now take that momentum to Dover and, hopefully, have another strong weekend.”
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