Erik Jones battled back from adversity early in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 to earn a seventh-place finish, his best NASCAR Cup Series result to date.
Jones, who also had a career best qualifying effort of fifth, is now 18th in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 12 races. He is 10 points behind Ryan Newman for 17th and 32 behind Matt Kenseth for 15th.
The team started fifth and was third just six laps into the 400-lap, 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. On Lap 19, however, debris from a competitor’s car damaged the nose of the Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry. Yeoman effort by the crew on pit road took care of the damage and Jones did the same on the track, picking up 20 positions to finish the first 100-lap stage in the 13th position.
“We had a good 5-hour ENERGY Camry tonight,” said Jones. “I think getting that damage early put us behind the 8-ball and the car wasn’t the same the rest of the night but we have to be happy with our best finish of the season. It was good to get a solid top-10 finish because it’s definitely something to build on. This is what we needed after some tough races and tonight we just needed a good, solid finish. I think we were even a little bit better than the finish but the hole in the nose early kept us from ever getting the balance the same again.”
Stage 2 found Jones falling back to 19th early before gradually picking spots back up. He was 12th when imminent rain forced NASCAR to red flag the race on lap 143, which turned into a delay of nearly 1 hour 40 minutes. When green-flag racing returned on Lap 154, the Byron, Mich., native headed toward the front. He was 10th by Lap 167 and 14 laps later was eighth which is where he finished the second 100-lap stage.
Jones ran between ninth and fifth the entire third stage of the race. Furniture Row Racing’s 5-hour ENERGY crew continued their strong showing on pit road during the two stops during the stage, rewarding themselves with a fifth-place finish at the conclusion of 300 laps.
The final 100-lap/150-mile run to the checkered flag found Jones moving into fourth by Lap 320. He ran between there and seventh the majority of the stage, dropping as low as 14th after the final stop, under green, before rebounding for seventh and the best finish of the season so far.
“Furniture Row Racing is strong right now,” noted Jones. "Martin (Truex) was really strong all night. It’s cool to be a part of it and cool to drive fast race cars. It’s always fun to show up and drive cars that can contend for wins.”