Erik Jones’ Learning Curve Continues To Be Steep At Sonoma

Erik Jones
Erik Jones has taken advantage of the latest in technology to prepare for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 as well as a two-day side trip to Utah.

The NASCAR Cup Series rookie driver has never driven a lap on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile Sonoma Raceway road course nor driven a lap in a Cup car on a road course. So last Tuesday the driver of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota did the next best thing by spending most of the morning on a race simulator to gain some experience that he believes will pay big dividends over the weekend.

“I don’t do a ton of work on the simulator but I did spend about four hours there making laps and learning everything I could,” said Jones. “I think it’s helpful. It gives you a visual of the track and a few marks and a few shift points and stuff. I won’t totally rely on the information but, for a road course, it’s pretty accurate. It will definitely give me some kind of mark or point to go off of when I get in there and do the real thing.”

The Furniture Row Racing driver does have five road course starts in NASCAR’s national series: one win (2015) and a third-place finish (2014) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Park in Ontario, Canada; one start each in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series at Watkins Glen International (finished 12th), Mid-Ohio (finished sixth) and Road America (finished 21st).

Jones, along with Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr., their crew chiefs Chris Gayle and Cole Pearn, and fellow Toyota driver Daniel Suarez, stopped in Utah for two days on the way to Sonoma to spend time with members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard and Speedskating teams on behalf of Toyota.

They spent Tuesday training with members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams at the Center of Excellence in Park City. The Toyota team members and members of the media participated in workouts and simulator exercises. Jones was a quick study on the alpine simulator, especially considering he has never skied, virtually or in the real world.

“It was great to see the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team athletes and the dedication they have to be successful at the highest level of the sport,” said Jones. “We got to participate in a few of their routines and I definitely liked the downhill ski simulator the best. I’ve never skied before so it took a little getting used to but I got the hang of it and would love to try it again.”

Wednesday will be spent at the U.S. Ski Jump training facility in Park City and the Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City with the U.S. Speedskating team. Toyota is the Official Automotive and Mobility Partner of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team.

The Byron, Mich., native is currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 15 races. He is eight points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for 15th place and 52 behind Joey Logano for 10th.

The 110-lap, 350-kilometer Toyota/Save Mart 350 will consist of three stages of 25/25/60 laps (laps 26/50/110). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET) on Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM 90 and PRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Saturday at 12:45 p.m. MT (2:45 p.m. ET) on FS1.

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
TOTALS/AVG. 17.3 18.0 4147/4666 22 322



2017 Furniture Row Racing No. 77 5-hour ENERGY 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

Chris Yerges, Green Bay, Wis.

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.
Transportation Mike Clementson, Cambridge, Md.

Jason Taggart, Castleton, Vt.

Dave Shano, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Travis Watts, Great Bend, Kan.

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


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.