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Kickin The Tires

Erik Jones Overcomes Saturday Crash for 3rd on Sunday

Photo by Nigel Kinrade Photography

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

It was a split weekend for Erik Jones at Pocono Raceway. Thankfully for him, it ended on the positive side.

Crashing out of the opening NASCAR Cup Series race of the weekend on Saturday, Jones started Sunday’s Pocono 350 at the rear with a back-up car.

And he went forward from there.

Improving on his No. 20 Toyota from the green flag, Jones ended the day third, earning his fourth top-five finish of 2020 and second in the last three races.

“Today was a lot better than yesterday for sure,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, I think we could have – definitely could have had two top-fives, and really, I think our primary car was quite a bit better than this car.

“I thought we could have probably contended both days a little more towards the win if we had our primary, but the Craftsman Camry was good.”

Jones was humbled by the hard work shown by his Joe Gibbs Racing, bringing out the back-up in less than 24 hours. A competitive ride at that.

“It’s great to rebound like that,” he said. “We made good changes overnight. We actually changed a lot of stuff and tried to kind of re-balance with what we had with this backup car.”

The race, delayed multiple times by weather, was up against the clock as the sun began to set in Pennsylvania. Finishing under some dark skies, Jones felt some track changes kick in.

“They changed quite a bit as far as it did rubber in a little bit after the shower we got,” he said. “It got tighter and then after the sun went down, I thought it freed up the last probably 25 laps. We were pretty loose at the end. It was kind of holding us back from really doing much more than running third, but it did change a lot.

“It was pretty dark the last 10 laps, but I was glad we could get the race in.”

Finishing up front is nothing new for Jones at the Pocono triangle. Sunday’s podium was his fifth top-five finish in just eight Pocono starts. With JGR teammate Denny Hamlin taking the win — JGR’s sixth in the last seven Pocono races — the team has compiled some great success at the track the last three years.

“It’s nice to get a solid finish,” he said. “I mean, we came off a good run at Talladega and went right back to a DNF and to come back here with a third. We just need to be consistent from here and keep it rolling.”

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