Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota team look to Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 to make up for an early exit the last time they were at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Jones had qualified sixth for the July 16 NASCAR Cup Series race on the flat 1-mile oval but a cut tire and heavy contact with the outside retaining wall ended their day after just 40 laps of competition. The team had to settle for a 39th-place finish.
“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota was a top-10 car for sure the last time we were at New Hampshire so I feel pretty confident we’ll have the same, or better, this week,” said Jones. “We were just starting to hit our stride at that time and we’ve come a long way since then.”
Jones is 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings after 27 races. He trails Clint Bowyer for 18th by 30 points. Jones continues to lead the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 246 points, 13 ahead of Daniel Suarez (233) and 66 ahead of Ty Dillon (180).
“Our only focus now is winning races,” Jones said. “It’s pretty much been that way for the past couple of months but even more so since we didn’t make the playoffs. The rookie of the year battle is still a goal for our Furniture Row Racing team but winning a race is what we’re after. This year has been much more of a learning year than I ever would have expected, more than any year that I’ve run full time in a series in my whole career.
"I knew it would be a big step up but not to this extent. I felt comfortable in the Camping World Truck Series after three or four races and in the XFINITY Series after five or six races. In Cup, I still feel like I’m learning so much every week. I have a much greater sense now of how much more it takes to be competitive and successful at this level. I used to just show up and run well with a good car. Now I’m learning more about how to prepare myself for a weekend, learning about the race cars and figuring out how to be on top of my game.”
The 300-lap, 300-mile ISM Connect 300 will consist of three stages of 75/75/150 laps (75/150/300). Sunday’s race will air live beginning at noon MT (2 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN. Qualifying (multi-car, three rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. MT (5 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and MRN.