A four-car crash on the front straightaway ended Erik Jones’ and the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota team’s day 10 laps from finish of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The early exit left the NASCAR Cup Series rookie with a 31st-place finish in his first series start at The Brickyard.
“I got under the 14 (Clint Bowyer) off of (Turn) 4 and there were some lapped cars in front of us,” said Jones. "I was almost at his door and wrecked me and him. It looks like the 41 (Kurt Busch) got into it somehow, so it’s just unfortunate. There’s just been a lot of stuff like that to us this year. It seemed like our Sport Clips Camry was fast, got better all day and we had a top-five car. Just didn’t get to see it all play out.’
It was the second consecutive early exit for Jones and the Furniture Row racing team after a cut tire and heavy contact with the outside retaining wall last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ended their day after just 40 laps.
“It’s been the story of our season. We’ve run well, run up front, just haven’t been able to close the races out whether it’s our own fault, bad luck or other circumstances. We know we can take a lot away from it.”
Jones took the green flag from the outside of Row 5 and dropped one spot in the running order before rain halted the proceedings after just 11 laps. Racing resumed after a one hour, 47 minute delay and the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota was seventh when the field slowed on Lap 30 for the NASCAR-mandated competition caution.
After service on pit lane, Jones restarted 13th on Lap 35 and finished Stage 1 on Lap 50 in the 12th position.
A bold call by crew chief Chris Gayle kept Jones on the track when most of the leaders hit pit road during a caution on Lap 72. The move resulted in the No. 77 Toyota assuming the lead for the restart on Lap 76. Jones dropped to fourth by the end of Stage 2 on Lap 100 but picked up seven important championship points for doing so.
Jones was seventh when the final stage began on Lap 106. He ran as high as fourth (Lap 131) before pitting for fuel and tires during a green-flag stop on Lap 133. On a separate schedule due to staying on track during a caution earlier in the race, Jones returned to the action in 21st place and was running 17th when the wreck occurred on Lap 151.
The 21-year-old rookie is 17th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 20 races. He is three points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 16th-place and 22 behind Ryan Newman for 15th place.
The race winner was Kasey Kahne. Rounding out the top 10 in order were: Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Matt Dibenedetto, Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger.
The race at 14 cautions for 55 laps and three red flags. There were 10 lead changes among seven drivers.
The next race is July 30 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.