Erik Jones and the No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota were in position to score their fourth consecutive top-five finish until a late-race caution and missed shift on the ensuing overtime restart forced them to settle for sixth in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Jones hit pit road running fourth and lined up fifth, on the inside of Row 3, for the two-lap dash to the checkered flag. Unfortunately, a missed shift between second and third gears on the restart dropped Jones two spots as he crossed the finish line in sixth place.
It was still the Furniture Row Racing rookie driver and team’s sixth straight top-10 finish.
“I was hoping we’d try to make it three wide and make something happen, you know,” said Jones. “We were just going to have to bully our way to the front and unfortunately we just didn’t get the chance. I just missed third gear and messed up. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever missed a shift before. It’s just really disappointing. I really hate it for my guys and hate that we didn’t at least get a shot at it.
“Would have loved to go after it, but the SiriusXM Camry was good all night. We were a top-five car all night. We just didn’t quite find that last little bit of speed we needed, but had the restart we wanted – had the shot we wanted – just didn’t work out.”
Jones qualified 10th and started from the outside of Row 5 for the 400-lap regular season-finale on the 0.75-mile oval. The handling of the No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota was loose early but adjustments throughout the first 100-lap segment alleviated the issue and Jones ended Stage 1 in the seventh position.
The second 100-lap stage ran caution free and Jones’ patient yet determined driving yielded a third-place finish.
The final 200-lap stage slowed for a caution on Lap 257, with Jones maintaining the fifth position. A green-flag stop shuffled the deck a bit but Jones was soon back in fifth after the field had cycled through the stops. The No. 77 Toyota moved into fourth place on Lap 395 before the caution final caution three laps later forced the overtime finish.
Kyle Larson won the race. The balance of the top 10 finishers were: Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jones, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott.
There were 13 lead changes among seven drivers and seven cautions for 38 laps.
The next race is Sunday Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.