The lack of good fortune on superspeedways for Erik Jones continued in the GEICO 500 when a multicar crash with 20 laps remaining ended a strong run for the Furniture Row Racing team at Talladega Superspeedway.
Jones’ No. 77 ToyotaCare Toyota Camry was one of 18 cars, including Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Camry, which were collected in the melee on Lap 168. Jones was able to get the car back to pit road and to the attention of his crew but the damage was deemed to extensive to continue.
Jones had run strong all day and looked to be in position for a shot at the victory. He finished 10th in the 55-lap first stage and ninth in the second stage.
In the 78-lap final stage, a punctured tire on pit road immediately after his Furniture Row Racing crew completed a stop forced him back for additional service and loss of track position. But Jones was undeterred and worked his way steadily back to the front.
The No. 77 ToyotaCare Camry was running fifth when the caution flag slowed the field on Lap 160. Crew chief Chris Gayle kept his driver on the track and Jones was in that spot when the field returned to green-flag racing five laps later. It was just three laps after that when the big wreck occurred.
“I just saw the 24 (Chase Elliott) get loose,” said Jones. “I’m sure somebody got into the back of him. But you know when you’re in the middle like that and you see somebody wrecking and coming back up the track, there’s only so much you can do. Avoiding the wreck is not usually one of those things. “I thought we had a pretty good ToyotaCare Camry. We ran up toward the top 10 most of the day. We made it into the top five a few times and I really think we would’ve had a shot to go up there and run well at the end. I was waiting for about 10 to go. They were starting to race pretty hard and unfortunately we got caught up in the wreck.”
Jones is 20th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings. He is five points behind Matt Kenseth for 19th and 27 behind Kurt Busch for 15th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in overtime. Rounding out the top 10 in order were Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard and David Ragan.
The race had eight cautions for 33 laps and 26 lead changes among 14 drivers. The race was also red-flagged for approximately 27 minutes from the Lap 168 incident.