Talladega Is Beginning To Grow On Erik Jones

Erik Jones
Racing at Talladega Superspeedway has been called a wild card and a crap shoot but Erik Jones likes his and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota team’s odds heading into Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500.

The Furniture Row Racing driver realizes he’s only competed there once in NASCAR’s premier series and already has first-hand knowledge of its well-earned reputation for quickly ending what had been a great race. But he’s a quick study and sees an opportunity where others may see just a challenge.

“Racing at Talladega is really starting to grow on me,” said Jones. “I have to admit I wasn’t a huge fan in the beginning because it seemed like there was so much out of my control. But it’s different and changes your mindset from the majority of the season so it’s kind of fun.

“I’ve learned from this season’s superspeedway races that there are things in your control and more you can do on the track, like when to be aggressive and when not to. So I’m enjoying it more and looking forward to this weekend.”

Jones qualified 14th at Talladega in May but finished 33rd after getting caught up in an 18-car wreck on Lap 169. He was running in the top 10 at the time of the incident and had earned top-10 finishes in both stages of the race. Despite the poor finish, Jones is optimistic about his chances in the Alabama 500.

“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, and all of the Toyotas for that matter, have been strong at the superspeedways this year so we’ve worked together to figure out the best way to approach this weekend,” said Jones. “But it’s hard to execute plans once you’re out there, especially toward the end of the race. At the end of the day you have to do what you can to win and we’re in a position that there are fewer and fewer races for us to get that first win.”

This weekend, the TV panel of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota will sport the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation logo in honor of his Furniture Row Racing teammate. The signature teal and gold logo represents an emotional time for Truex Jr., whose foundation’s dual mission is ovarian and childhood cancers. Truex Jr’s longtime partner, Sherry Pollex, is fighting a recurrence of the ovarian cancer doctors first diagnosed in 2014. In 2016, she launched SherryStrong.org, a health and wellness site for women. For more information, visit MartinTruexJrFoundation.org.

Jones is 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings after 30 races. He trails Clint Bowyer for 17th place by 12 points. Jones leads the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 255 points, six ahead of Daniel Suarez (249) and 72 ahead of Ty Dillon (183).

The 188-lap, 500-mile Alabama 500 will consist of three stages of 55/55/78 laps (55/110/188). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at noon MT (2 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Saturday at 2:15 p.m. MT (4:15 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

 

 

No.

 

Date

 

Event

 

St

 

Fn

 

Laps

Laps

Led

 

Status

 

Points

 

Rank

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
TOTALS/AVG. 15.3 16.1 7900/8708 310 748

 

 

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.
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

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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