Box Score Info:
Date: March 31, 2019
Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (Round 7 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Track: Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile Oval)
Format: 334 Laps (Stages: 85 laps / 170 laps / 334 laps)
Start/Finish: 11th/4th (Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
Point Standings: 16th (173 points, 137 points out of 1st)
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano
Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-85)
- Erik Jones and the No. 20 CRAFTSMAN team started 11th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and finished stage one in the 23rd position.
- Quickly moving in to the top 10, Jones was battling for position when he got loose on lap 15 and spun to bring out the first caution of the race. With no damage to his Toyota Camry, Jones pitted for four tires and fuel.
- Jones restarted the race on lap 18 from 29th and began focusing on passing one car at a time.
- With the stage remaining green for the duration, teams were forced to make green-flag pit stops late in the stage. Stretching the fuel mileage, Jones came up one lap short and was forced to pit on lap 84 for fuel. The stop dropped the team off the lead lap and also forced the 20 team to start at the rear of the field after being penalized for pitting when pit road was closed.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 86-170)
- The CRAFTSMAN team restarted the race on lap 91 from 32nd and at the end of stage two was scored 20th.
- Battling the other cars one lap down for the “Lucky Dog’ position to get back on the lead lap, a pit call of fuel only under the lap 148 caution gave the team the extra positions needed and Jones was able to hold on to the “Lucky Dog” position until the end of stage two. Jones returned to the lead lap and turned his focus to getting back in to the top 10 and contending for a win.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 171 – 334)
- Jones restarted the final stage from the 19th position and crossed the finish line in fourth place.
- Running lap times comparable to the top five, Jones was able to move back in to the top 10 as green-flag pit stops started on lap 220. Pitting from third on lap 238, crew chief Chris Gayle made the call for four tires and fuel. Once the field cycled through stops, the CRAFTSMAN team was scored 10th.
- A single-car incident brought out the caution on lap 254 and unable to make it to the end of the race on fuel, Gayle made the call to stay out under the caution, gaining the No. 20 several positions on track. The race restarted on lap 260 with Jones scored second.
- Jones moved to the lead on lap 261, but teammate Kyle Busch took over the lead on lap 264 with teammate Denny Hamlin running third.
- Retaking the lead when Busch had issues, Jones pitted under green on lap 302 for right side tires and fuel. With teams on varying pit strategies, Jones was able to make his way back in to the top five and finished the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 in the fourth position.
- Jones led the race two times for 30 laps.
- The finish marked Jones third top-10 finish and second top-five finish of the season.
- Jones has now finished fourth in the last three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin won his second race of the season with Busch finishing 10th and Martin Truex Jr. finishing 12th.
ERIK JONES, No. 20 CRAFTSMAN Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How would you access your race today?
“It was good. We had a really good CRAFTSMAN Camry, but I put us behind there at the start getting myself in trouble spinning out. I was in a weird spot with fuel and what we needed to do. We needed to take more fuel than everybody else and ended up losing the lead there on that green flag cycle. It’s a good day, but it’s disappointing at the same time. We knew we had a car that could’ve won and to not capitalize on that is frustrating, but it’s also nice to get on track and have some good runs again.”
Did you think it was your opportunity to win the race when Kyle Busch fell back?
“Yeah, he (Kyle Busch) was really good. I thought we were pretty equal depending kind of who was out front. I think we could both run pretty much wide open out front and both of us were having to lift a little bit behind each other. I knew he was loose, and I was just hoping if I kept the pressure on him, he’d make a mistake and fortunately he did. I knew we were in a good spot. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) was fast, but I thought we had a good enough car to keep it up there, but it just didn’t play out for us.”
Did you feel that was the run your team needed today?
“Yeah, it was. We had a rough few weeks from really Las Vegas on, so it’s just nice to get back on track and have a good run. It’s good and it’s frustrating at the same time. We had a car that probably had a shot at the win, and I put us in a hole early. We’ll keep going, though. We learned a lot today. It was our first really good race with this package on a mile-and-a-half so that’s a positive.”
Next Race: Teams now head to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 on Sunday, April 7. The race will be broadcast at 2:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, Performance Racing Network (PRN) and SIRIUS XM Channel 90.