Learning from experience, good and bad, is critical for the future success of a young race team. That process has helped create the foundation Erik Jones and Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 Toyota Camry team continue to build on early in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and team take that shared experience this week to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., after a series’ career-best eighth-place showing March 19 at Phoenix Raceway. Jones is currently 18th in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series driver standings and has moved up 19 spots since a 39th-place finish at Daytona. His 82 points place him eight markers behind Aric Almirola for 17th and just 15 behind Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Clint Bowyer in a three-way tie for 13th.
The Furniture Row Racing No. 77 Toyota Camry will sport a Toyota Service Centers paint scheme this weekend. Toyota Service Centers are among the most state of the art dealership facilities in the country. This is the only place where trusted factory trained technicians use genuine Toyota parts and accessories to keep your Toyota a Toyota. Our goal is to service our customer's vehicles quickly, professionally and provide peace of mind everywhere they go.
“I think the good finish at Phoenix was the culmination of the last few weeks of our Furniture Row Racing team working hard together to get better and stronger, fixing the minor issues that cost us some top-10 finishes at Las Vegas and Atlanta,” said Jones. “Phoenix was the first time we executed well all day and really got the finish we deserved. We’ll carry that momentum into this week’s race with the No. 77 Toyota Service Centers Toyota Camry which will also be a good learning experience for us.”
The Byron, Mich., native has two previous NASCAR XFINITY Series starts under his belt at the fast Southern California two-mile oval. The now 20-year-old earned his first series’ pole position and finished third in 2015 and last year ran out of fuel while running second near the end of the race, finally finishing 15th.
“Auto Club Speedway is a pretty different track compared to what we’ve been on the last three weeks,” Jones continued. “We were good at the mile-and-a-half tracks [Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway] which is encouraging because we can take a lot of things from there over to the Toyota Service Centers Camry this week. It’s definitely a track that wears out tires and the groove moves around a lot.”
The 200-lap (400 miles) Auto Club 400 will consist of three stages of 60/60/80 laps (laps 60/120/200). In each of the first two stages, drivers finishing in the top-10 will receive championship points (10 to 1) with the winner receiving one playoff point. The overall race winner will earn 40 championship points and five playoff points. Playoff points accumulated during the season will carry through the first three of the four playoff rounds.
Sunday’s Auto Club 400 will air live on the Fox network beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.