Erik Jones Forced to Settle for Fourth Following Mishap Under Yellow

Photo by Getty Images via NASCAR

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

Erik Jones has two wins this season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, and for a while it looked like he might make it three at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night. Jones qualified third, closing out a one-two-three starting spot for Joe Gibbs Racing, with Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez qualifying first and second, respectively.

For Jones, it did not turn out the way he wanted.

During the second-to-last caution of the night, Jones had passed Busch for the race lead. While driving around under caution, Jones slowed dramatically. Busch and Suarez drove around him and NASCAR determined that Jones had not maintained reasonable speed and did not keep up with the pace car. The No. 20 was forced to restart in third rather than the lead that he had earned under green.

The 20-year-old driver was never able to regain the lost track position. On the next restart, Jones fell back a handful of positions after blocking a strong run from Ryan Blaney. While he was able to get some of those positions back on the final restart of the night after the final caution flag flew, Jones  had to settle for fourth.

He was obviously disappointed after the race, as he wasn’t able to challenge eventual winner Busch by the end of the night.

“I don’t know, I fell back 20 feet from the pace car, no different than if you’re saving fuel and they put me to third place,” Jones said postrace. “So I guess I gave it away, but you know it’s unfortunate. Good Reeser’s Camry and not much to show for it.”

There was some question as to whether or not Jones slowed in order to save fuel, but he indicated post-race that fuel conservation was not the reason he lost the positions.

“I wasn’t saving fuel,” he continued. “I was doing something else. Just trying to get the best restart I could. Unfortunately, I hit the wrong button coming to get going again. It put us back too far apparently for NASCAR. Thought we should be coming to one to go and ended being third on that restart. It’s just hard to make up a lot of ground here in traffic. Not what we wanted and it just didn’t work out.”

Jones moved up two positions in the standings and is now fourth, 57 points behind leader Suarez. Jones’ two wins means he is solidly in the XFINITY Series Chase, a format introduced to the series for the first time this season.

Next week, the XFINITY Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 16th. Jones has never made a start at that track in the XFINITY Series but does have two starts in the Camping World Truck Series, finishing in the top 10 in both races.

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