Box Score Info:
RACE: DAV 200
TRACK: Phoenix International Raceway
DRIVER: Erik Jones
CAR: No. 20 GameStop Toyota
- Erik Jones and the No. 20 GameStop Camry team recovered from troubles experienced on the first pit stop of the DAV 200 – Honoring America’s Veterans at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday afternoon to post a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) event. The result was Jones’ career-best NNS finish and third top-10 finish in as many starts behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) entry this season.
- Jones earned a career-best third starting position for the race and was running fourth when the first caution of the day occurred on lap 38, setting up the first round of pit stops for teams. Crew chief Kevin Kidd called for a two-tire stop, but when a lug nut got jammed in the hub on the right front wheel and slowed the stop, Kidd audibled to a four-tire stop. While trying to recover, a tire went uncontrolled and per NASCAR rules, Jones would be forced to take the ensuing restart from the tail end of the longest line. With his temperature gauge on the rise, the two-time Truck Series winner at Phoenix visited pit road one more time before the field went green to have a piece of tape pulled from the grill and top off with fuel.
- The NASCAR Next product took the lap-45 restart from the 21st position and slowly but surely began to maneuver his way forward. When the second caution of the race occurred on lap 83, Jones had advanced up to the 13th position, despite reporting that his GameStop Camry was “lacking grip everywhere.”
- Under caution, Kidd summoned his driver to pit road for fresh ride-side tires, a full tank of fuel and a track bar adjustment. The JGR driver returned to the track scored in the eighth position for the restart on lap 90. Jones remained scored eighth when he visited pit road again under caution on lap 115 for another set of right-side tires.
- The No. 20 Toyota restarted in the seventh position when the field went back green on lap 117 and remained there when the fourth yellow of the event flew on lap 166. Jones reported that his Camry was “snug in the center” and made another visit to pit road for fresh right side tires and a full load of fuel yet again. He took the ensuing restart from the sixth position.
- Over the final 40 laps, the Michigan native jockeyed between the sixth and eighth positions and was running seventh when the fifth and final caution occurred on lap 199. With the third-place car bringing out the yellow, Jones took the green-white-checkered finish scored sixth and would hold ground over the final two laps to bring home a career-best finish in the Nationwide Series.
- Brad Keselowski picked up his fifth victory of the season and 32nd of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career. Jones’ Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 187 laps, finished 0.141 seconds behind him in the runner-up spot. JGR driver Elliott Sadler finished third, while Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five finishers.
Erik Jones’ Post Race Thoughts:
How was the race?
"I feel like we should have finished better than we did. We lost track position there on the first stop -- we had a mishap on the right front and just went all the way to the back, dead last and had to kind of work our way back up. Just took all day to kind of make that back up. We never ended up on as good as tires as everybody else and that just kind of put us behind the eight ball. The GameStop Camry was one that I thought should have been probably a top-three car, but we just didn't have the track position all day to do it. Cool race track still, one of my favorites and I can't wait to have another shot here in the XFINITY Series."
Kevin Kidd’s Post Race Thoughts:
How was your team able to overcome the early troubles on pit road?
“It was a pretty good day -- unfortunate we lost all of our track position early. You never want to lose track position anywhere, but at Phoenix it is especially difficult to lose it. At that point, we were kind of on our heels and just had to fight back to get everything we could. Erik passed a bunch of cars to get us back towards the front and we had to keep just putting right sides on to keep our track position. At the end of the race, we were on old left-side tires compared to everybody else and he had to drive the wheels off of the GameStop Camry to keep us up there. He did the best he could and once again showed me that he has a tremendous amount of talent and is going to go far in this sport. It was a pleasure to work with him for these three races.”