Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Cut Tire Ruins Erik Jones’ Day
Erik Jones was setting himself up to contend for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway when a cut tire with 80 laps to go took him out of contention.
Starting 14th, the Furniture Row Racing driver drove into the top-five in the early laps, placing third in the first stage. He kept the momentum rolling through Stage 2 with a sixth-place finish.
Continuing to battle just outside the top-five, Jones worked his way around the lap cars, coming up on the back of Gray Gaulding. The pair made contact, cutting down the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota Camry’s right front tire. Jones then slapped the wall, before being run into the back of by A.J. Allmendinger.
With a bent upper control arm and heavy sheet metal damage, Jones limped home to a 17th place finish.
“Pretty unfortunate,” Jones said. “I thought we had a really good car and a car that if we could have got some track position and maybe got up front, I think we could have led some laps and had a shot at the win. I thought we were just as good as the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) for the majority of the day. We’ll keep working on it, and we have a good package to come back in the fall.”
The rookie’s performance throughout the Food City 500 pleased crew chief Chris Gayle, who was optimistic about a second top-10 of 2017 before the accident.
“I thought it was going to be a really great day for us,” Gayle said. “We were strong in all three practice sessions this weekend and Erik’ (Jones) done a great job. I felt like there right before we got into the accident and cut the tire that we were actually going to have a shot to compete for the win here. I was looking forward to getting that next set of tires off and getting ready for the last 100 laps. Just unfortunate that a little contact there cuts a tire and turns what could have been a really great day for us into just an okay points day for us.”
Jones will hope to run well at Richmond International Raceway, where he has three top-fives in four XFINITY Series starts.
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