Furniture Row Racing showed its mettle Sunday at Pocono Raceway with determined performances from its two drivers – rookie Erik Jones and veteran Martin Truex Jr.
Jones notched a career best third-place finish and Truex put on a gritty showing by coming from the rear of the field to post a sixth-place result.
This was the second time that both Furniture Row Racing drivers finished in the top 10 in the same race this season.
Jones, who led 20 circuits in the 160-lap race, was a steady top-10 and top-five performer on the slick 2.5-mile triangular track. In a race that saw a number of pit strategies, Jones’ No. 77 GameStop Cars 3 Driven to Win Toyota team had its unique strategy that paid off in the end with Jones pocketing his first top-five result
in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“Just happy, happy that we finally got a finish that we deserved,” said Jones. “We ran top-five most of the day, had good strategy and it worked out. The last restart played out right into our hands. It’s exciting we had a fast race car. Wish we had a little bit faster one and then we could have gone up there and raced for it, but definitely a good day for us. It’s just gratifying.”
Jones is tied for 16th in driver points with Ryan Newman, and is the leader in Rookie of the Year points.
Truex’s 10th top-10 finish of the season was anything but a walk in the park for the Mayetta, N.J. native. He had to overcome issues as soon as he hit the track for the first practice session on Friday. A power-steering problem cut his practice short, but the team came back later in the day to qualifying second.
But after Saturday’s sub-par practice session, the team changed engines and instead of starting on the outside pole Truex was sent to the rear of the field. He kept gaining positions but twice before the first stage was completed (50 laps) he had to drop back because of paper that got stuck on his car’s grille.
Truex eventually put his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota in contention with a third-place finish in the second stage. He also led five laps during his resurgence to the front.
But on the final restart after a Lap 142 caution Truex came out of the pits fifth. He was hoping for fourth so he could restart on the preferred outside lane. But Ryan Blaney, who went on to win the race, just beat the No. 78 car off of pit road and took the outside lane.
“It was a tough day, but we battled hard after having to start at the back due to an engine change after Saturday’s practice,” said Truex. “This team never quits, fought right to the end and did have a shot of winning this thing. But when the race restarted for the final time we weren’t in the preferred outside lane.
“We wanted to be fourth instead of fifth and have the outside lane. But (Ryan) Blaney got that spot by just beating us off pit road. Overall we had to overcome a number of issues, but in the end we found ourselves once again in contention with our No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota.”
The good news for Truex is that he remains the points leader, a one-point margin over second place Kyle Larson and 104 points ahead of third-place Kevin Harvick.
Following Ryan Blaney to the checkered flag were: Kevin Harvick, Jones, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Truex, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth.
The race had four cautions for 18 laps and was red flagged once for 23 minutes. There were 13 lead changes among nine drivers.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday June 18 at Michigan International Speedway.