Erik Jones came into the AAA Texas 500 needing a strong run to build on for the final races of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season and the hard-earned 10th-place finish in the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota at Texas Motor Speedway did just that.
It was Jones’ 13th top-10 finish of the season and broke a string of six consecutive races without one. It was also 12 positions better than the rookie driver’s 22nd-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in April.
Jones remains 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 34 races with 802 points. He is 18 points behind Clint Bowyer for 18th, 67 behind Joey Logano for 17th and 47 points ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.
“I think the Sport Clips Toyota was pretty decent today,” said Jones, who won Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race for a sweep of the series’ 2017 races at Texas Motor Speedway. “We never quite had the track position we wanted, especially toward the end of the race. We got stuck in the back of the top 10 and never could get back into the top five where I thought we could have run. It was an ok day, nonetheless, getting another top-10 day for the team. We needed a good run to get our momentum back for the final couple of races of the season and we did that today.”
Starting fourth, on the outside of Row 2, the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota was scored fifth at the end of Stage 1 on Lap 85 and ninth after Stage 2 on Lap 170. Early in the final stage, Jones raced in the top 10 while dealing with a loose handling race car. Contact with a competitor’s car caused a right-front tire rub but it worked itself free allowing Jones to continue. He battled for 10th the balance of the race to finish just ahead of Kasey Kahne.
Kevin Harvick won the race. The balance of the top-10 finishers were Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch and Jones.
The race had 27 lead changes among 13 drivers. There were eight cautions for 40 laps and one red flag for 10 minutes.
The next race is Nov. 12 at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!