Martinsville Speedway will again be the site of a significant marker in the racing career of Furniture Row Racing’s Erik Jones when the driver of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry makes his NASCAR Cup Series short track debut in the April 2 STP 500.
It was April 6, 2013, at the tight and flat 0.526-mile oval that the then 16-year-old Byron, Mich., native made his NASCAR national series debut in the Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Jones qualified 19th in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra, went on to earn a remarkable ninth-place finish, and has since posted another top-10 and two top-five finishes in just five series starts.
Despite the strong showings there, Jones still knows there are things to be learned and work left undone.
“Martinsville is one of the toughest tracks I’ve been to in my NASCAR career,” said Jones. “We’ve always been able to get good finishes there but I’ve definitely struggled there a little bit. So I’m hoping the racing line will be similar to when I raced there in the Truck Series and can take some of the things I learned in the truck and transfer it over to the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry.”
The 20-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate is currently 15th in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series driver standings after a 12th-place finish last week at Auto Club Speedway. Jones claimed nine additional championship points last week for finishing eighth in the first stage and fifth in the second. His 116 points place him two behind Kurt Busch for 14th and 20 behind Kyle Busch for 10th.
After starting 34th and finishing 39th in the 2017 season-opening Daytona 500, the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing team has rebounded to post an average starting position of 17.4 and an average finishing position of 17.6.
“This season has been good so far for the 5-hour ENERGY team,” Jones continued. “We’re five races in and we’ve met some of our goals already. I wish we could have had some better finishes, closer to where we’ve run good stretches of some of the races. We haven’t closed out like we’ve needed to but the Furniture Row Racing team is working hard to get everybody 100 percent where we need to be. We’ll start to get those good finishes before too long.”
The 500-lap (263 miles) STP 500 will consist of three stages of 130/130/240 laps (laps 130/260/500). In each of the first two stages, drivers finishing in the top-10 will receive championship points (10 to 1) with the winner receiving one playoff point. The overall race winner will earn 40 championship points and five playoff points. Playoff points accumulated during the season will carry through the first three of the four playoff rounds.
Sunday’s STP 500 will air live beginning at 2 p.m. ET on FS1. Qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!