Two drivers found themselves into trouble in the opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice for Saturday’s Go Bowling 400. The incidents involved Erik Jones on the frontstretch and Michael McDowell with an engine failure.
The No. 77 5-hour Energy Toyota team repaired the side skirts and will not go to their backup car.
“Well I was just a little bit free and I moved up a little bit in (turns) three and four to try to keep the lap time in it and it started getting away from me some and eventually just had to kind of give up on it,” said Jones after the incident. “It’s already getting too free and there was kind of no coming back. So just gave up, spun out and you know after that luckily we didn’t really catch the grass too bad and didn’t get too much damage. We’ll get if fixed up and get back out for second practice.”
Jones, who made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2015 at Kansas, sits 19th in points going into this weekend’s event. Through 10 races in 2017, the Michigan native holds one top 10 finish.
Michael McDowell blew an engine during the opening practice session that ended the practice about three minutes early. The No. 95 Tommy Williams Drywall Chevrolet crew was forced to make an engine change following the incident.
“I’m not really sure, something broke, something big,” said McDowell. “It was just a little vibration and then the motor blew right there. I’m not sure what happened if a belt came off or something like that, but we have a really good TWD Chevy, it was really fast there on that long run. We didn’t make it out that first part of practice and we weren’t able to put up a big lap, but this car is really good. So, we will swap the motor out, we will be fine.”
NASCAR veterans Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kyle Larson also had close calls during the practice session.