Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Subway Firecracker 250
TRACK: Daytona International Speedway
DRIVER: Erik Jones
CAR: No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry
LAPS: Completed 104 of 104 laps
RACE WINNER: Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing
- NASCAR’s XFINITY Series entered week fifteen of the 2015 season at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on a rainy 4th of July Saturday night. After a few storm showers dampened the 2.5-mile superspeedway, XFINITY Series action got underway and Monster Energy driver Erik Jones was prepared to move forward from row three, a fifth-place qualifying effort achieved earlier in the day. The No. 54 Camry and Jones battled the sliding lanes of Daytona and ran as high as fourth place through the night. While positioned for a charge to the front late in the race, however, another competitor hit Jones’ Monster Energy machine causing damage that forced two pit road visits for repair. The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 team was able to complete the race and brought their Toyota Camry home in eighth place.
- During one Friday practice session, Jones was happy with his No. 54 Monster Energy Camry, commenting initially, “this is one of the best superspeedway cars I’ve driven.” Jones continued his positive momentum with a fifth-place qualifying run at 179.308mph for a row three start Saturday night after rain showers passed through the area and track drying efforts were implemented. Upon taking the green flag, Jones gained and lost spots as competitors vied for the fastest lanes in both the low and high grooves in areas with over 31 degrees of banking. Two initial caution periods and the No. 54 team did not pit, while Jones relayed his Camry was, “really good, sucked up really, really, really good” in reference to drafting the other competitors.
- A subsequent restart, however, shuffled Jones from sixth place to 11th place when the 22 competitor (Joey Logano) held up a lane and forced Jones out of the groove he wanted. The team chose to pit during the next caution period for two tires, fuel and a small adjustment to tighten up the Monster Energy Camry which had begun to develop a loose-handling condition for Jones. Now in 15th place Jones worked to improve spots upon restart and climbed to eighth place, when the No. 54 was again forced into the outside line that hung Jones out without drafting support and dropped his position to 12th place. Once again Jones gained positions back to 10th when the team elected to pit under green-flag conditions.
- A fast pit-road visit, this time for four Goodyear tires, fuel and adjustments and Jones was back out on track to battle on the famous tri-oval. Another caution flag at lap 50 of the 100-lap scheduled event and Jones was scored in seventh place but reported to his crew chief the last pit stop changes, “Helped balance but I’m still a little unstable entry/exit of the turns and under other cars.” Crew chief Chris Gayle took notes on Jones’ feedback but confirmed they wouldn’t visit pit road again as they had enough fuel to finish the race. Jones remained around sixth place through the later part of the race and moved into the fourth position when the always anticipated “big one” occurred on lap 90. Fortunately the No. 54 machine was ahead of the may-lay, unharmed by the accident and in a good position to finish the race and make a drive for the lead.
- The race restart didn’t go our way, unfortunately, as Jones battled frontrunners for advancement when his Monster Energy Camry was clipped from behind causing Jones to bounce off another car which caused significant right-front damage. As multiple cars were involved in this accident, the race was under caution and the No. 54 team made two pit-road visits in attempt to fix their battered machine and return Jones to the race surface for the final few laps. The team was successful in clearing up the damage, as best as possible, and Jones finished the final laps of the extended race in eighth place.
- Saturday’s XFINITY Series event recorded an average speed of 132.804 mph and saw 9 lead changes across 5 drivers. There were 7 caution periods over 24 laps of the 250-mile event.
- With Saturday’s top-10 result the No. 54 Monster Energy team maintained 8th-place in NASCAR’s Owner Championship Points Standings, 83 markers behind the No. 22 of Penske Racing.
- The NASCAR XFINITY Series competes again Friday, July 10 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network at 7:30pm EST.
Erik’s Post-Race Thoughts:
“It’s too bad. We had a good car to do it. We were rolling along there pretty good and the bottom opened up and we went to the bottom behind the 33 (Austin Dillon) and the 2 (Brian Scott) and the 20 (David Ragan) was behind us and I thought that was a pretty good position to be in to try to get a good push to the end, but it’s all we could really do with our Monster Energy Camry. I don’t like to believe in luck, but it’s hard to think, man, what do you do different? It was a good day though. The plate races have been tough for us this year so it’s nice to get a finish. We’ll take eighth.”