In June, Ryan Blaney became the next young gun to notch his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. He did so at the Pocono Raceway. Now, can another youngster do the same this weekend in the return trip to the Tricky Triangle?
Erik Jones will certainly be in the mix for the win in Sunday’s Overton’s 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN). Jones, finished third in that June race and is looking for a two spot improvement this weekend.
Sunday’s race will be the fourth start at the 2.5-mile track for Jones. He started first and finished second in last year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race there and finished sixth and 10th respectively in 2014 and 2015 in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action. The 2015 race he also started from the pole.
“We ran top-five most of the day and had good strategy and it worked out,” said Jones. “The last restart played out right into our hands. It was definitely a good day for us. We didn’t have the winning car but we stuck to our guns and worked at it hard all day, which can be tough to do sometimes. We got the finish I felt like we deserved.”
Jones and the No. 77 Toyota team did not finish the races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 16), despite sixth- and 10th-place qualifying efforts, respectively. A cut tire and heavy contact with the wall at New Hampshire ended the team’s day after just 40 laps and a multicar crash with less than 20 laps remaining did the same at Indy.
He was strong in both race weekends too.
“Yeah, it’s been the story of our season,” said Jones. “We’ve run well, run up front, just haven’t been able to close the races out whether it’s our own fault, bad luck or circumstance, so we know we can take a lot away from it.”