Box Score Info:
RACE: Food City 300
TRACK: Bristol Motor Speedway
DRIVER: Erik Jones
CAR: No. 20 Reser’s Main St. Bistro Toyota
- After going a lap down just past the halfway mark of the Food City 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Erik Jones and the No. 20 Reser’s Main St. Bistro team battled back to an eighth-place finish. It marked the second career Nationwide Series top 10 in as many starts for Jones, who finished seventh in his Nationwide Series debut at Chicagloand (Ill.) Speedway in July.
- Jones earned the sixth starting spot for the 300-lap event with a lap of 15.467 seconds at 124.058 in the final round of knockout qualifying, after advancing with the fifth quickest lap - 15.453 seconds at 124.170 mph - in the opening session.
- The Michigan native reported a tight-handling Toyota in the early stages of the race, but had lost just one position when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 42. With a competition caution scheduled for lap 60 and rain approaching the area, crew chief Kevin Kidd implemented a strategy that would hopefully put the No. 20 Reser’s Main St. Bistro Camry at the front of the field when the race reached halfway. Kidd summoned his young driver down pit road, where the over-the-wall crew made a four-tire stop and returned their driver to the track scored in the 13th spot for the lap-49 restart. Per NASCAR rules, the team was not allowed to replenish fuel until the scheduled caution, but by taking tires before it, it allowed them to make a fuel-only stop when the competition caution occurred.
- Taking the restart from the dreaded inside lane, Jones fell back to the 16th spot before he could navigate an opening into the outside lane. He remained 16th when the competition caution waved and after a fuel-only stop was scored in the ninth spot for the ensuing restart. Once again stuck on the inside, the Michigan native fell back to the 13th spot as the race continued.
- Jones, who continued to report that his Reser’s Main St. Bistro Camry was tight, remained in the 13th spot when the field was slowed for the fifth time on lap 111 for a multi-car accident. When pit road opened, he brought his Toyota down pit road for four-fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The 18-year-old was scored in the 17th position for the lap-118 restart.
- The Joe Gibbs Racing driver advanced one position on the restart, but as a long green-flag run ensued, ended up surrendering a lap to race leader Kyle Larson on lap 177. Shortly after being passed by Larson, Jones made a timely pass of Trevor Bayne to secure the “Lucky Dog” spot just before the sixth caution occurred on lap 181.
- Jones brought his Camry down pit road for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment and took the lap-194 restart at the tail end of the field in the 15th position. Back under green-flag conditions, he reported that his Toyota was “much better” and began his march back towards the front of the field. By the time the eighth caution of the race occurred on lap 261, the talented youngster had advanced up to the 11th position. Two competitors scored ahead of him elected to pit, leaving the No. 20 team scored in the ninth spot for the ensuing restart with 39 laps remaining.
- Two cars inside the top 10 tangled down the backstretch on lap 282 and Jones had to take elusive action to narrowly avoid the melee. He was scored in the seventh position for the lap-287 restart, but was once again positioned on the inside lane and lost one spot when the race went back green. After the 10th and final caution occurred on lap 291, Jones held serve on the ensuing restart to bring home a hard-fought eighth-place finish.
- Ryan Blaney picked up his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. Jones’ Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 161 laps, finished 0.132 seconds behind him in the runner-up spot. Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon and Regan Smith rounded out the top-five finishers.
Erik Jones’ Post Race Thoughts:
How was the race tonight?
"It was a long night. We really fought hard and had to kind of battle back from a lap down there early. Our Reser's Main St. Bistro Camry just wasn't where it needed to be early on and we kind of got a little better later, but just wasn't quite where we needed it. Strong night for us -- eighth. Top-10 run so that's good. Just wish we could have gone up and contended -- we all want to win races. We'll keep going back and get better and come back at Phoenix and try to get one."
How much fun is racing in NNS at Bristol?
"It's a blast -- I enjoyed it. I have to thank everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Reser’s for making it possible. Coming back and racing up through the field was fun. It was definitely a challenge for sure. I learned a lot and I think we learned a lot as a team. Hopefully we can use it all and move forward and be better next time."
Kevin Kidd’s Post Race Thoughts:
How did tonight’s race play out from atop the pit box?
“Overall it was a good day and we are pleased with the finish. We probably cost ourselves four or five positions getting greedy with pit strategy at the beginning of the race. There was a rainstorm coming, so I decided to roll the dice and go for the win, but instead it costs us four or five spots -- that’s the way it goes sometimes. All in all, I’m very proud of Erik and the effort he put in to get another top-10 finish.”