Date: May 31, 2020
Event: Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 (Round 9 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps (Stages: 125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish: 15th/5th (Running, Completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standings: 14th (228 Points, 142 Out of 1st)
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1 – 125)
- Erik Jones and the No. 20 STANLEY Toyota Camry team started Sunday’s Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway from the 15th position and finished stage one in 13th.
- At one of his best tracks on the circuit, Jones rolled off from the 15th position and moved in to the top 10 on lap 15.
- With two competition cautions early in the race on lap 20 and again on lap 60, Jones pitted both times for four tires, fuel and adjustments to improve on the No. 20 STANLEY Camry.
- The third caution of the race waved on lap 125 to end stage one with Jones in the 13th position. With a tight-handling Camry, Jones pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126 – 250)
- Jones started the second stage from the 12th position and finished the stage in eighth.
- Starting stage two from the 12th position, Jones moved back in to the top 10 on lap 142 where he remained when the caution waved on lap 199. Jones pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help with rear security. The race resumed on lap 207 with Jones scored 10th.
- Over the remainder of the stage, the race saw several cautions and one red flag following a multi-car accident. Opting to stay out under each caution, Jones was in the eighth position when the caution waved on lap 250 to end the stage. The team called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments. With teams on varying pit strategies, Jones dropped to 22nd for the start of stage three.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251 – 500)
- Jones started the final stage from the 22nd position and finished the race in fifth place.
- With the final stage underway on lap 261, Jones moved in to the top 20 on lap 263 and back in to the top 15 on lap 282.
- The caution waved on lap 327 with Jones in the 13th position. Crew chief Chris Gayle called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments to continue improving the handling of the STANLEY Camry. The race restarted on lap 334 with Jones in the 10th position.
- Making his way up to sixth, Jones was closing in on the No. 4 car for fifth when the No. 4 car had an issue and the two competitors made contact bringing out the caution on lap 434. Jones pitted for four tires, fuel and to work on the damage to the No. 20 Camry. Following two trips to pit road, Jones restarted the race from 20th on lap 439.
- On a mission to get back to the front, Jones was in the 13th position on lap 457 when the caution waved. Jones made his final stop of the race for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The race returned to green-flag conditions on lap 463 with the STANLEY team in 14th.
- Over the remainder of the race, Jones was able to continue moving through the field and took advantage of late race cautions to finish the race in the fifth position.
ERIK JONES, No. 20 STANLEY Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
Solid race today at Bristol, but you had to battle back late due to an incident not of your own making. How was your race today overall?
“It was solid. We had a pretty good STANLEY Camry. At times, I thought we were better than others. We got a good finish out of it, which was nice. I got caught up in a wreck with the 4 (Kevin Harvick) car. He blew a right front, and we got some damage on the left front at the end. It slowed us down for sure. We just never really got the track position all day, never got where we needed to. We were fast enough during some of the runs that I felt like we could have maintained if we had been up in the top three, we just never got up there. Good day, good finish. Top-five is always rewarding, but you always want more.”
With the track being so green, how long did it take to settle in and find some grip and a rhythm?
“It took a long time. We’ve never started at Bristol with a track green, and that slick. It really felt like it took all of that first 60 laps to get the bottom cleaned up and rubbered in. It took a good 250-300 to really get the top rolling, comfortably, and not even really to its full potential. I don’t think the top ever got to where it was truly the best it could be. It took a long time. It was really odd starting like that. We really had to make a lot of changes to try to keep up with the track.”
How different was this race without practice or qualifying?
“I think it was more of an effect today than what it had been at the mile-and-a-halves. Short tracks, you really seem to tune on your car a lot more through practice. Splitter heights are harder to gauge and hit correctly when you come to these places with just your sim. That was all a little farther off than what we had at the mile-and-a-halves. It took us a little longer to get it. Bristol, we are usually pretty good by the time the race starts, and we really didn’t have that today. It definitely affected us more today than the other tracks.”
- Jones fifth-place finish was his second top-five finish and fourth top-10 finish of the season.
- Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch finished fourth with Denny Hamlin 17th and Martin Truex Jr. 20th.
Up Next: The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 7, 2020 for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. The race will be broadcast live on FOX and PRN radio beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.