Erik Jones started from the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway in his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota and led the most laps in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race but eventually “settled” for a NASCAR Cup Series career-best second-place finish.
His Furniture Row Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr., finished 21st after his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Toyota developed a vibration after stopping for service under caution on Lap 205. He returned to pit road as the field took the green-flag and went two laps down when hit with a pit road penalty.
Jones led nine times for a race high 260 laps on the 0.533-mile high-banked oval after leading a total of 50 laps in the season’s first 23 races. He led 104 consecutive laps (254-360) in the middle of the 500-lap race and Laps 398-444 before relinquishing the lead to eventual race winner Kyle Busch, who took the checkered flag 1.42 seconds ahead of Jones.
“I thought we had a really good day and we fought hard all day,” said Jones. “We had our ups and downs and led a lot of laps and didn’t have quite enough at the end. Kyle (Busch) is really good here. But we had a good 5-hour ENERGY Camry. Just needed a little more at the end. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t have it. I did what I could, but it just wasn’t quite enough.
“We did almost everything we needed to do. We qualified on the pole and ran second, so I wish we would’ve had a little bit more. It’s a bummer. It’s a great weekend for us. You can’t take that away. The 5-hour ENERGY Camry was fantastic, but you still wish you could’ve had that little bit more to grab the win. That one would’ve meant a lot to us, but we’ll just have to keep after it. That’s two good weeks for us and we’re going to keep fighting and keep going after these wins.”
Jones is tied with Ryan Newman for 15th in driver points with two races remaining in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series regular season. The runner-up finish was the team’s fourth straight top-10 finish and second straight top five after finishing third last week at Michigan.
Truex remains in first place in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points, 101 markers ahead of second place Kyle Busch. There are two races remaining in the regular season. If he leaves the next race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway with a 61-point margin he will clinch the title with one race remaining.
The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Trevor Bayne, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney.
The race had 21 lead changes among six drivers. There were eight cautions for 53 laps.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!