Rookie of the Year frontrunner Erik Jones’ day ends early at Richmond

Photo courtesy of NASCAR/Getty Images

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

RICHMOND, Va. – Rookie Erik Jones’ day ended on Lap 7 after making contact with Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet in the Toyota Owners 400 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday.

Jones, the leading candidate for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, cut a left front tire as a result of colliding with the Hendrick Motorsports driver and his No. 77 Furniture Row Toyota went straight into the Turn 4 wall.

“Well, we got three-wide right on the start and then the 5 (Kasey Kahne) ran us up into the fence,” Jones explained. “I was trying not to wreck everybody and we got run into the wall by the 5 and then a couple laps later we cut a left front, so it’s really unfortunate. We only made five laps, 10 laps of the race and we’re already out, so it’s just really a heartbreaking day. It’s not what we wanted, but we’ll just have to come back next week, bring another fast race car and try to run up front again.”

Jones, 20, expressed disappointment with the aggression so early in the 400-lap event at the ¾-mile short track.

“Yeah, I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I guess they were three-wide. I was on top and just got ran into the fence right on lap one and that’s unfortunate. I mean, it’s 400 laps – I just wish there was a little bit more patience at times. It’s frustrating – I was just trying to get this race going and work. We’re racing hard, so it’s a bummer, you know? We cut a left front, couple of laps later out in the wall and our day is over. Those guys get to keep racing, so sucks, but we just have to move on.”

Jones entered Sunday’s race having racked up 32 stage points and 12th in the standings. This is the second straight race that Jones has had bad luck. He had a right front tire go down last week at Bristol while running eighth. He finished that race a lap down.

“Yeah, it sucks,”said Jones, whose other DNF came in the Daytona 500. “We’ve been getting a lot of stage points and been running up front and should have had a lot of good finishes and I think we had another good race car today – one that definitely could have got up into the top-10, got us some more stage points and got a good finish out of it, but the guys got to – there’s got to be more respect showing. I mean, we’re lap one and we’re three-wide running people into the wall. It’s just really frustrating.



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