Date: July 23, 2020
Event: Super Start Batteries 400 (Round 19 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Kansas Speedway (1.5-mile Oval)
Format: 267 laps (3 Stages: 80 laps / 160 laps / 267 laps)
Start/Finish: 21st/5th (Running, Completed 267 of 267 laps)
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1 – 80)
- Erik Jones and the No. 20 Reser’s “Thanks Employees” Toyota Camry team started the Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway from the 21st position and finished stage one in 10th place.
- For the Thursday night race at Kansas Speedway, Jones rolled off from the 21st position and was able to move the No. 20 Reser’s “Thanks Employees” Toyota Camry in to 11th before the competition caution on lap 25. With the No. 20 Camry a little tight, Jones pitted for four tires, fuel and a round of adjustments. The race restarted on lap 20 with Jones in 10th.
- The stage remained green until the caution flag waved on lap 80 to end stage one. After running as high as eighth during the stage, Jones was scored 10th at the end of the stage and pitted for four tires, fuel and another set of adjustments.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81 – 160)
- Jones started the second stage from the 10th position and finished the stage in seventh.
- The race resumed on lap 86 for the start of stage two with Jones in the 10th position.
- Moving up to eighth early in the stage, the No. 20 Reser’s “Thanks Employees” Camry was much better than stage one, but started to trend tight as the run continued.
- The team was scored ninth on lap 99 when the caution flag waved and crew chief Chris Gayle again called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The race restarted on lap 104 with Jones in ninth.
- The race was again slowed on lap 142 and Jones made a routine stop from the eighth position. With teams opting for varying pit strategies, Jones restarted the race on lap 148 from 11th.
- Over the final laps of the stage, Jones was able to move up to the seventh position before the caution flag waved on lap 160 to end the stage. With the handling improving, Jones pitted for four tires and fuel during the stage break.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161 – 267)
- Jones started the final stage from the ninth position and finished the race with a solid fifth-place finish.
- For the final stage at Kansas Speedway, Jones and the No. 20 team started the stage from the ninth position.
- With several cautions and a red-flag period early in the stage, Jones was scored sixth for the lap 186 restart and quickly moved up to fourth following the restart.
- Maintaining his position in the top five, Jones was running fifth when the caution flag waved on lap 195. Gayle called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and another set of adjustments. The race restarted on lap 199 with Jones in the ninth position.
- As the race continued, Jones slipped to outside the top 10, but quickly made his way back to the top five before the caution waved on lap 234. Jones made his final stop of the night, pitting from the fifth position for four tires, fuel and another set of adjustments to improve the handling of the Reser’s Camry. The race restarted on lap 239 with Jones scored eighth.
- Over the final laps and several late-race cautions, Jones was able to gain several positions to finish the race with a solid fifth-place finish.
ERIK JONES, No. 20 Reser’s “Thanks Employees” Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
How much of a boost is another solid finish for you and this team?
“This is what we needed; we needed a really good points day. It kind of seems like we’ve been in this spot the last couple of years unfortunately. It feels good to climb out of it. The Reser’s Camry was really good. We started really deep and just could never quite get up to the front and get some clean air. I kind of made a mistake on that last restart, I was trying to push too hard to get to the outside and gave up some ground there on those guys and had to make that back up. Good effort. Pit crew did good and the team gave me a good car. We just have to keep doing that and keep racking these points up and hopefully get a win.”
How do you balance aggressiveness and patience with the restarts when points are so important?
“Me and Chris (Gayle, crew chief) had that talk this week and just saying you need to be more aggressive on restarts. It’s there and you can make those moves, but they’re risky. It comes with risks and getting in wrecks and we saw a few of those tonight, big wrecks. It’s aggressively patient I guess. You have to take them as they come. Definitely have to try to make the big moves and makeup the spots because they’re had to make up as the run goes and you get strung out. I thought we had a few good restarts and a few bad restarts, probably evened out. A good day.”
You rallied from a mid-pack starting spot to race your way up to the front. Talk about your fifth-place finish tonight.
“I wish I could have played it over a little bit differently. The last restart wasn’t very good. We restarted sixth and that’s a good spot to be in and I tried to jump to the top and it just didn’t go anywhere, and we lost some ground and we never really got it back. A good day. The Reser’s Camry was really fast. We needed a good day. We had a good day with speed enough to win. We just never got up front. We will take it. Good points day. I’m sure we moved up there a little bit so we will keep pushing with that.”
Does it feel good to start getting some of the results you feel like you have the speed for?
“Yes, it’s always frustrating when you go week-to-week and have things happen and go wrong and you can’t ever get the results. I feel like we can run top-five every week, if we don’t have any mistakes. We didn’t today. We just have to keep doing it. If you are in that spot, you are going to have the opportunity to win one. Any of those guys in the top-five, six even could have won the race. It just mattered how it was going to shake out. So, you just have to be in that mix.”
How was the race overall and how does it feel to be cutting into the points deficit for the Playoffs?
“It was good. We started pretty deep in the field and were able to get some good track position early and then finally, we got up towards the top-five there at the end, which is what we needed to do. I felt like we kind of had maxed out balance and handling, we just needed to get some better air on our car. Once we kind of got up there, I felt like our Reser’s Camry came around a little bit more and we had some speed that we could have contended for the win. We had the day we needed. We had some guys have some issues and we got some good stage points, and then obviously, got a good finish, and cut the deficit by quite a bit. That’s the kind of day we needed, and the kind of day we need for the next seven. But if we can keep running like that, I have a feeling we can knock out a win here, hopefully, pretty soon.”
- The finish marked Jones fifth top-five finish of the season.
- Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin won his fifth race of the season, Martin Truex, Jr. finished third and Kyle Busch finished 11th.
Up Next: The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, August 2, 2020. Coverage of the race will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN radio and SIRIUS XM Channel 90.