Erik Jones Had A Very Strong 4th Place Finish At Phoenix

Erik Jones
Erik Jones continued his rock solid performance at Phoenix Raceway by taking Furniture Row’s No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota to a fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500.

The 21-year-old series rookie kept alive a streak of now 12 consecutive top-10 finishes in as many starts on the one-mile oval, including two victories in the Camping World Truck Series. He finished eighth in the Cup race in March.

Jones also moved up on spot, to 18th, in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 35 races. His 847 points is 47 points behind Joey Logano for 17th, two ahead of Clint Bowyer for 19th and 73 points ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.

“Today was a good day for us,” said Jones. “The 5-hour ENERGY Camry was good. Definitely had the speed to run up front and contend for the win – so thanks to TRD for that – but I just didn’t really execute 100 percent on the last restart to really give myself the shot I needed. Kind of a bummer, but overall really strong day for us – another day we needed. It had been a minute since we had really ran in the top-five competitively and had a shot and that is what we did today. Nice to get back on track. Nice momentum for next week and hopefully being able to close the season out with a win.”

Jones was a mainstay in the top 10 throughout the 312-lap race. After starting 11th, he finished seventh in Stage 1 and third in Stage 2 despite chasing the handling of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota from tight to loose and back again.

Crew chief Chris Gayle called for a 2-tire stop under caution on Lap 256 while running fifth. Most of the leaders stayed out so Jones restarted 11th with just more than 50 laps remaining. He was back to fifth by Lap 273 and into fourth on Lap 275. He crossed the finish line just behind Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.

Matt Kenseth won the race. The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Chase Elliott, Truex, Jones, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The race had seven cautions for 41 laps and one red flag for five minutes. There were nine lead changes among five drivers.

The final race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series is Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


Erik Jones Has Never Finished Outside Of The Top 10 At PIR

Erik Jones
Though Erik Jones grew up in Byron, Mich., 70 miles northwest of Detroit, it’s the home cooking at Phoenix Raceway he has been waiting to taste for the past eight months.

The driver of Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota believes Sunday’s Can-Am 500 as the best opportunity in the season’s final two races to capture his first NASCAR Cup Series victory. He has very good reason to think so.

In 11 races at Phoenix Raceway in NASCAR’s top three series, Jones has never finished outside the top 10. He earned his first career Camping World Truck Series victory there in 2013 and repeated in 2014. The 21-year-old has also tallied four other top-five and five more top-10 finishes. Two of those top-10 finishes were a ninth in just his third NASCAR Cup Series race, subbing for Matt Kenseth in November 2015, and an eighth earlier this year in his Furniture Row Racing debut there.

“Winning that first Truck race in 2013 was huge and cemented for me that Phoenix Raceway is a special place,” said Jones. “I’ve just felt comfortable racing there from the beginning and that gives me that much more motivation. We were running fifth late in the race earlier this year and I thought we had a shot at the win until that final caution shuffled us back a little. I know we can win there so it’s just a matter of execution and catching a break or two.”

Jones also knows how to get the job done in qualifying. Three times each he’s earned the pole, second place, or third place on the starting grid. Both of his NASCAR Cup Series starts have been in the top 10, qualifying eighth earlier this season and seventh in 2015.

“I’m just so proud of how far this 5-hour ENERGY Toyota team has come this season,” said Jones. “We started the year out with the speed we needed from TRD (Toyota Racing Development) to run up front. Racing in the Cup Series has been a learning process for all of us and by the middle of the season I felt like we got better about what we needed to do to be more successful and compete for a win. So it’s been awesome to see the progress we’ve made with a brand new team.”

Jones is 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with 802 points after 34 races. He trails Clint Bowyer for 18th by 18 points (820) and Joey Logano for 17th place by 67 points (869) and is ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th place by 47 points (755).

Jones leads the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 261 points, seven ahead of Suarez (254) and 71 ahead of Ty Dillon (190).

The 312-lap, 312-mile Can-Am 500 will consist of three stages of 75/75/162 laps (75/150/312).


Erik Jones Logs A Tenth Place Finish At The AAA Texas 500

Erik Jones
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.


Erik Jones Sweeps The 2017 Texas NXS Races

Erik Jones

There was no keeping up with Erik Jones on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – though Ryan Blaney tried his level best over the closing laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.

Jones, the pole winner, swept the first and second stages of the event, led 142-of-200 laps and completed the season sweep of NASCAR XFINITY Series races at the 1.5-mile track – the first time that’s happened since Kyle Busch won both races in 2009.

The victory was Jones’ third of the season, his third in six starts at TMS and the ninth of his career. Though the race was decisive in Jones’ favor, it settled little with regard to the XFINITY Series Playoff, with no driver clinching a spot in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Regaining the lead after a cycle of green-flag pit stops, when Ty Dillon pulled onto pit road on Lap 192, Jones kept Blaney behind him the rest of the way and powered his No. 20 Joes Gibbs racing Toyota across the finish line 1.018 seconds ahead of Blaney’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

After last year’s fall race, the track was repaved. If anything, the new configuration made Jones even faster.

“It’s sure been a good race track to me,” Jones said. “On the old track and the repave now. It’s just been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to. The first time I came here in a truck, I’ll never forget, I never thought I’d like the place, and ever since then it’s just kind of clicked for me.

“Just excited to get back to Victory Lane. It’s been a few months since I’ve grabbed a win and the 20 guys have got a win, so happy to get them back here. They’ve brought fast cars for the last month, and we just haven’t found Victory Lane, so cool to get back here again and just happy for these guys.”

After Blaney made his last stop for fuel on Lap 185, and Jones pitted a lap later, Blaney trailed the race winner by less than a car length when they both regained top speed. Passing was another matter.

“It just stinks we couldn’t get around him,” said Blaney, who is in the thick of the battle for a Championship 4 spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. “I thought we had a shot after the green-flag stop. I thought we were way better, but we got held up a couple times by traffic.

“I thought we had the car to win – just a matter of trying to get in front of him, and I couldn’t pass anybody. I tried to get him loose a couple times and couldn’t do it. I about wrecked myself trying to get him loose. It’s really hard to get around anybody. Hopefully, that gets a little better for tomorrow.”

Kyle Larson came home third after two snafus on pit road cost him a chance to win. Under caution on Lap 92, after the end of the second stage, Larson came to pit road before it was open. Though he didn’t stop for service, Larson lost positions when he blended back in line.

And after a stop on Lap 127, Larson had to return to pit road to allow his crew to tighten a loose lug nut. With the race going green to the finish after the subsequent restart on Lap 131, Larson ran out of time in his pursuit of the winner and runner-up.

Elliott Sadler ran fourth and took the series lead by five points over JR Motorsports teammate William Byron, who ran ninth. Justin Allgaier, the third JR Motorsports Playoff driver, is nine points behind Sadler after an 11th-place finish.

“My car was really good tonight,” Sadler said. “Erik and Blaney were so much better into (Turns) 1 and 2. They had it figured out. I’ve got to go to work before we come back here in the spring. But all in all, it was a great night for us.”

Cole Custer finished fifth, recovering from a punctured tire that dropped him rapidly from his front-row starting position but the driver of the No. 00 Ford leaves Texas in sixth place, 13 points behind fourth-place Brennan Poole, with the Playoff field to be cut to the top four after next Saturday’s race at Phoenix.

Matt Tifft ran eighth and is fifth in the standings, five points behind Poole.

Check out the unofficial results of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.


Erik Jones Prepares For The AAA Texas 500

Erik Jones
No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota Camry News and Notes:

  • JONES AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: With three races left in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, Erik Jones will make his third-career Cup Series start at the 1.5-miile Texas Motor Speedway. Jones made his first Cup Series start at the Fort Worth, Texas track in 2015 where he started the race from the sixth position and with a strong run, finished 12th. Returning to the track this year in his first full season in the series, Jones started from deep in the field and crossed the finish line 22nd. Jones has one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win and two NASCAR XFINITY Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway.
  • THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 77 CAMRY: This weekend Sport Clips will make their final appearance as the primary sponsor on the No. 77 Toyota Camry with Erik Jones and Furniture Row Racing. With their headquarters in Georgetown, Texas, Texas Motor Speedway serves as Sport Clips home track on the NASCAR circuit.
  • DOUBLE DUTY: In addition to piloting the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota Camry in the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, November 5, Jones will pull double duty this weekend competing in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge in the No. 20 Call of Duty: World War II and Call of Duty Endowment Toyota Camry. On Saturday, Jones looks to add to his winning streak in the XFINITY Series at Texas Motor Speedway and sweep the 2017 race weekends.
  • ROOKIE UPDATE: After 33 races of the 2017 Cup Series season, Jones leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, five points ahead of Toyota Racing teammate Daniel Suarez.
  • RACE INFO: The AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on NBCSN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and PRN Radio.


Jones Career NASCAR Cup Series Stats at Texas Motor Speedway:

Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
2 0 0 0 0 0 21.0 17.0


Jones 2017 Season NASCAR Cup Series Stats:

Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
33 0 4 12 1 310 15.0 17.5


Jones Career NASCAR Cup Series Stats:

Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
36 0 4 12 1 311 14.5 18.1


From the Cockpit:

Erik Jones: “Texas is a track where I really enjoy racing and where I’ve seen a lot of success in both the XFINITY and Truck Series. I’ve had Texas circled on the calendar as a place where we should run well and contend for a win. We didn’t have the best finish earlier this season at Texas, but as a team we’ve come a long ways since April and I think with a little luck, we can run up front and have a shot at the end in the Sport Clips Camry. I got my high school diploma at Texas a few years ago and my first win in the XFINTIY Series, so Texas holds a lot of special memories for me and it would be cool to add my first Cup win to the list.”


No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota Camry / Furniture Row Racing Team:

Driver – Erik Jones                                        Crew Chief – Chris Gayle                         Car Chief – Todd Brewer

Engineer – James Small                               Engineer – Chris Yerges                               Engine Tuner – David McClure

Mechanic – John Furino                              Mechanic – Cesar Villanueva                     Mechanic – Henry Katzke

Tire Specialist – Scott Simmons                Shocks – Alex Michie                                   Spotter – Rick Carelli

Gasman – Matt Tyrell                                  Jackman – David O’Dell                                 Front Tire Changer – David Mayo

Front Tire Carrier – Richard Coleman      Rear Tire Changer – Brain Eastland     Rear Tire Carrier – Blake Haugland

Transportation – Mike Clementson               Transportation – Jason Taggart                Transportation – Dave Shano


About Sport Clips Haircuts

Sport Clips Haircuts is headquartered in Georgetown, Texas. It was established in 1993 and began franchising in 1995. The sports-themed haircutting franchise, which specializes in haircuts for men and boys, is ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the “Fastest-Growing Franchises” and in the top 10 in its “Franchise 500.” There are more than 1,600 Sport Clips stores open in the U.S. and Canada. Sport Clips is the “Official Haircutter” of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), offers veterans preferential pricing on haircuts and franchises, and was named a “2016 Best for Vets: Franchises” by Military Times. Sport Clips provides “haircuts with heart” through its annual Help A Hero fundraiser that has given $5 million to the VFW; national partnership with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants; and other national and local philanthropic outreach. Sport Clips is a proud sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin and Furniture Row Racing’s Erik Jones, and partners with numerous NCAA and professional sports teams. To learn more about Sport Clips, visit


Erik Jones Struggles With Handling Issues At Martinsville

Erik Jones
Erik Jones struggled with an ill-handling No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota throughout much of Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway and was forced to settle with a 26th-place finish.

Despite the tough outing, Jones remains 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 33 races. He is 71 points behind Joey Logano for 17th and 37 points ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.

“It was just a tough day for the SiriusXM Toyota,” said Jones. “We lost a lot of track position early and from there we just never could get it back. It ended up not being a great day. We’ll work a little harder and be a little better for next week.”

The Furniture Row Racing team worked late Saturday night and began again early this morning preparing the backup car after Jones crashed in Saturday’s second practice. Despite any track time, Jones was able to qualify eighth earlier today to line up on the outside of Row 4 for the mid-afternoon start.

Jones battled between the eighth and 10th positions for the first 87 of the scheduled 500 laps on the flat 0.531-mile oval. Problems during the day’s first pit stop on Lap 89, and some drivers choosing to stay out or take two tires, put the No. 77 Toyota in the 24th position for the restart. Jones was shown in 18th place after Lap 130 to complete Stage 1.

The No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota moved up to 13th by Lap 180 but a lack of forward drive dropped Jones to 16th by Lap 230 when he was passed by the leader. He would maintain that position by the end of Stage 2 after Lap 260.

Jones spun exiting Turn 4 on Lap 317, resulting in damage to the left-rear of the No. 77 Toyota. Quick work by the Furniture Row Racing pit crew repaired the damage enough for Jones to continue though he was then mired in the 29th position. With passing at a premium on the tight Martinsville racing surface, Jones was able to pick up three spots before the checkered flag waved five laps into overtime.

Kyle Busch won the race. The balance of the top-10 finishers were Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

There were 11 cautions for 74 laps and 10 lead changes among six drivers.

The next race on the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth.


Chirstopher Bell Is In It To Win It

Christopher Bell
Christopher Bell arrived at Martinsville Speedway on Friday intent on the serious business of trying to win a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, but his victory in last Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Kansas Speedway was still a prime topic of conversation.

With four laps left in the Kansas Lottery 300, Bell pulled a slide job on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones and steered his No. 18 Toyota up to the wall in front of Jones’ No. 20, which plowed into the back of Bell’s Camry.

Set to drive full-time for JGR next season, Bell went on to win in his fifth start, while Jones nursed his wounded car to a 15th-place finish, one lap down. After the race, Jones was critical of Bell’s “dirt-track” move.

After talking to Jones later , however, Bell believes the hatchet is buried.

“Me and Erik – we’re fine,” Bell said on Friday before practicing his Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra in preparation for Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 Truck Series race at Martinsville. “I reached out to him after the race. We’re fine. Our relationship is kind of how it was before that. There’s no grudges held, at least that I know of.

“I don’t know. I’m a dirt racer, and he’s not a dirt racer, so maybe that was two backgrounds clashing right there. I executed my move exactly how I wanted to do it, and I felt like I left him multiple options to get a different outcome. That’s kind of where I’m going to leave it.”

It’s not that Bell and Jones were bosom buddies before the race, even though both have advanced through the Toyota development pipeline. When Bell starts his first full-time XFINITY season with JGR next year, Jones will move into the seat of Gibbs’ No. 20 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride.

“As far as mine and Erik’s relationship, we weren’t really, I guess, friends before,” Bell said. “We didn’t talk every day or anything like that. We were acquaintances, so I think that’s going to continue on.

“I made sure that I reached out to him after the race. I tried to smooth things over as good as I can. We’re all here to win. We’re not here to become buddies.”

The Truck Series leader was second fastest in opening practice on Friday behind two-time champion Matt Crafton, who covered the .526-mile distance in 20.129 seconds (94.073 mph) on his 11th and final lap of the session.


Erik Jones Hits The Reset Button For Martinsville

Erik Jones
Erik Jones and the No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota team look to hit the reset button at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500.

After a wreck and 36th-place finish at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway two weekends ago and a Talladega-type wreck and 35th-place finish last Sunday at Kansas Speedway, the 21-year-old series rookie sees the cozy confines of Martinsville’s 0.531-mile oval as the perfect place to refocus for the final four races of the season.

“It’s definitely been a tough couple of weeks both on the track and off,” said Jones. “What happened at Talladega was almost inevitable. Last week I just got loose and then lost it. I hated it for the guys because we were running up front and looked like we were heading for a top-five finish.

“It will be good for all of us to get to Martinsville for some classic short track racing in the SiriusXM Toyota. There are some good tracks left on the schedule for us to get strong finishes and this weekend should be one of them.”

Jones qualified 15th and finished 12th at Martinsville in April which, at the time, was the Furniture Row Racing team’s second-best finish of the early season. It was a day of ups and downs for the Jones who finished eighth in Stage 2 but then had to battle back from getting caught up in a wreck with fewer than 100 laps remaining.

“We learned a lot at that first Martinsville race,” said Jones. “We went two laps down, had to pit under green, had a tire rub and then got caught up in an accident. But we stayed focused, got back on the track and the handling of the car the rest of the race was the best it had been all day. The entire day taught us you just can’t give up.”

Jones is 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings after 32 races. He trails Joey Logano for 17th place by 53 points and is ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th place by 48 points. Jones leads the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 257 points, six ahead of Suarez (251) and 69 ahead of Ty Dillon (188).

The 500-lap, 263-mile First Data 500 will consist of three stages of 130/130/240 laps (130/260/500). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Sunday at 10:05 a.m. MT (12:05 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN.


Erik Jones

2017 NASCAR Cup Series Results

No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry






















1 2/26 Daytona 34 39 103/200 0 Crash 1 37
2 3/5 Atlanta 23 14 325/325 0 Running 26 29
3 3/12 Las Vegas 8 15 267/267 0 Running 22 20
4 3/19 Phoenix 8 8 314/314 0 Running 33 18
5 3/26 Fontana 14 12 202/202 0 Running 34 15
6 4/2 Martinsville 15 12 500/500 0 Running 28 13
7 4/9 Texas 36 22 333/334 0 Running 15 14
8 4/24 Bristol 14 17 499/500 0 Running 33 12
9 4/30 Richmond 20 38 4/400 0 Crash 1 16
10 5/7 Talladega 14 33 168/188 0 Crash 7 20
11 5/13 Kansas 33 22 267/267 2 Running 17 19
12 5/28 Charlotte 5 7 400/400 0 Running 39 18
13 6/4 Dover 7 15 405/406 0 Crash 27 18
14 6/11 Pocono 15 3 160/160 20 Running 39 16
15 6/18 Michigan 14 13 200/200 0 Running 24 16
16 6/25 Sonoma 30 25 109/110 0 Running 12 16
17 7/1 Daytona 17 9 163/163 9 Running 28 17
18 7/8 Kentucky 14 6 274/274 0 Running 40 14
19 7/16 New Hampshire 6 39 40/301 0 Crash 1 17
20 7/23 Indianapolis 9 31 148/167 10 Crash 13 17
21 7/30 Pocono 9 8 160/160 4 Running 4 16
22 8/6 Watkins Glen 6 10 90/90 0 Running 33 18
23 8/13 Michigan 8 3 202/202 5 Running 47 16
24 8/19 Bristol 1 2 500/500 260 Running 50 15
25 9/3 Darlington 10 5 367/367 0 Running 37 14
26 9/9 Richmond 10 6 404/404 0 Running 43 18
27 9/17 Chicago 24 33 259/267 0 Running 4 19
28 9/24 New Hampshire 8 6 300/300 0 Running 45 19
29 10/1 Dover 10 12 400/400 0 Running 25 19
30 10/8 Charlotte 38 17 337/337 0 Running 20 19
31 10/15 Talladega 23 36 26/188 0 Crash 1 19
32 10/22 Kansas 7 35 197/267 0 Crash 8 19
TOTALS/AVG. 15.2 17.3 8123/9163 310 757



2017 No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Team


Over-the-Wall Crew

Front-Tire Changer David Mayo, Byron, Ga.
Front-Tire Carrier Richard Coleman, Orlando, Fla.
Rear-Tire Changer Brian Eastland, New Bern, N.C.
Rear-Tire Carrier Blake Haugland, Mount Ayr, Iowa
Jackman David O’Dell, Springfield, Ill.
Gasman Matt Tyrell, Plantation, Fla.


Road Crew

President Joe Garone, Denver, Colo.
Crew Chief Chris Gayle, Little Rock, Ark.
Car Chief Todd Brewer, Manassas, Va.
Race Engineers James Small, Melbourne, Australia

Jeffrey Barber, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Engine Tuner David McClure, Carmichael, Calif.
Engine Builder Toyota Racing Development (TRD)
Spotter Rick Carelli, Arvada, Colo.
Shock Specialist Alex Michie, Woodslee, Ontario, CANADA
Tire Specialist Scott Simmons, Cambridge, Ontario, CANADA
Front-end Mechanic John Furino, East Meadow, N.Y.
Underneath Mechanic Cesar Villanueva, Parsippany, N.J.
Floater Mechanic Henry Katzke, Wausau, Wis.
Fabricator Jim Watson, Greenfield, Wis.
Transportation Mike Clementson, Cambridge, Md.

Jason Taggart, Castleton, Vt.

Dave Shano, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Behind the Wall Support Gene Cornwell, Rock Hill, S.C.
Coach Driver Henry Benfield, Taylorsville, N.C.
IT Support Eric Cragun, Pleasant View, Utah


A Violently Hard Crash Prematurely Ended Erik Jones’ Day At Kansas

Erik Jones
Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota were in position late in the Hollywood Casino 400 to put the previous weeks’ bad luck behind them before yet another multicar crash forced an early exit at Kansas Speedway.

The 14-car wreck coming off Turn 2 on Lap 197 of 267 left Jones with a 35th-place finish. Despite the second consecutive DNF (36th at Talladega), Jones remains 19th in the championship point standings, 53 behind Joey Logano in 17th and 48 ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.

“I just got loose – I started getting free off of (Turn) two when the 24 (Chase Elliott) starting coming around us and I just lost it,” said Jones. “We had a good run going up there in third place and thought we were going to have a top-five day. Wish we could have ran it out, but it’s just an unfortunate ending. All of us were thinking about Jim Watson and his family and we were hoping to bring home a strong finish for them.”

The No. 77 started the race with a tight handling condition but adjustments called for by crew chief Chris Gayle and determined driving by Jones resulted in a 10th-place finish in the first 80-lap stage. Jones dropped as low as 17th in the second stage but rebounded to finish sixth in Stage 2.

Solid work in the final 107-lap stage allowed Jones to move into the top five early on and up to third for a restart on Lap 193. Close pack racing immediately after the green flag waved caused the turbulent air that created the loose handling on the No. 77 that then caused the multicar crash on Lap 198. Despite the hard hits and getting partially airborne, Jones was uninjured in the incident. The car, however, was too damaged to continue.

“I made the same mistakes here in the spring and this place has just been tough on me,” said Jones. “Fortunately we had a fast 5-hour ENERGY Camry and it was up front, we had worked our way back up to that point after having mishaps at the start of the day. Nonetheless, not the ending that we wanted, but hopefully we can come back a little stronger for Martinsville.”

Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. won his series-leading seventh race of the season. The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch.

There were 10 cautions for 49 laps, one red flag for 10 minutes and 14 lead changes among seven drivers.

The next race on the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is Oct. 29 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.


Christopher Bell Grabs First NXS Victory At Kansas

Christopher Bell

Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 may have been the opening race in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff, but the real drama involved two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates outside the championship battle.

On Lap 197 of 200 at Kansas Speedway, Christopher Bell caught and passed Erik Jones for the lead, clearing Jones’ No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with a slide job and drifting up to the outside wall right in front of his JGR teammate.

Under a full head of steam, Jones plowed into the back of Bell’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, wrecking the No. 20 Camry, which slowed markedly and finished 15th, a lap down.

Bell took the checkered flag with polesitter Tyler Reddick and some hard feelings on Jones’ part in his wake.

“It’s not dirt racing,” Jones complained, referencing Bell’s dirt-track background. “He’s not clear. I can’t just stop on the top. I didn’t expect him to drive in on the bottom so hard he wouldn’t be able to hold his lane.

“It’s unfortunate. I thought we were going to race for the win, and unfortunately, it wasn’t much of a race—it was more of a wreck. We’ll just have to move on.”

Jones had led four times for 186 laps before Bell ran him down from more than two seconds back in the closing laps. The series leader in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Bell got the victory in his fifth start, becoming the first driver to get his maiden XFINITY win at the 1.5-mile track.

Bell also is the 10th straight different winner in the series.

“I never want to wreck anyone, especially my teammate,” Bell said. “I don’t know. My spotter said ‘Clear.’ I drove it in really deep. I felt like I cleared him – I don’t know.

“It’s my first XFINITY win. I’m sorry that Erik didn’t finish the race, but, man, I’m just stoked. This thing was awesome. To be able to win in the XFINITY Series is something I dreamed of as a kid. We were both on old tires. We were sliding around…

“Bummed for the way it finished, but I’m glad it held on, man. I was getting tire smoke in the car there those last couple of laps, and I was worried we weren’t going to make it.”

Ryan Blaney ran third, followed by playoff drivers and JR Motorsports teammates William Byron and Justin Allgaier, the latter of whom collected 11 stage points and took over the top spot in the standings by two points over Byron, who had to start from the rear of the field because of unapproved pre-race adjustments to his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

Elliott Sadler, another JRM entry, recovered from a spin in Turn 4 on Lap 76 to finish seventh and is third in the Playoff standings, 11 points behind Allgaier.

“A tire came apart—I don’t know whether I ran over something or not,” said Sadler, who turned sideways in the path of oncoming traffic. Eventual sixth-place finisher Austin Dillon did a masterful job of avoiding Sadler’s spinning car.

“I gave ‘em a big target, but nobody hit us,” a relieved Sadler said after the race.

Beyond the top three Playoff positions, little was decided. With two races left in the Round of 8, there’s an eight-point gap between fourth-place Brennan Poole, who ran 12th on Saturday, and eighth-place Cole Custer, who brought his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to pit road with two laps left because of a cut tire and finished 19th, two laps down.

Check out the unofficial results of the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.