Jones Struggles, Finishes 26th at Martinsville

Erik Jones struggled with an ill-handling No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota throughout much of Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway and was forced to settle with a 26th-place finish.

Despite the tough outing, Jones remains 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 33 races. He is 71 points behind Joey Logano for 17th and 37 points ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.

“It was just a tough day for the SiriusXM Toyota,” said Jones. “We lost a lot of track position early and from there we just never could get it back. It ended up not being a great day. We’ll work a little harder and be a little better for next week.”

The Furniture Row Racing team worked late Saturday night and began again early this morning preparing the backup car after Jones crashed in Saturday’s second practice. Despite any track time, Jones was able to qualify eighth earlier today to line up on the outside of Row 4 for the mid-afternoon start.

Jones battled between the eighth and 10th positions for the first 87 of the scheduled 500 laps on the flat 0.531-mile oval. Problems during the day’s first pit stop on Lap 89, and some drivers choosing to stay out or take two tires, put the No. 77 Toyota in the 24th position for the restart. Jones was shown in 18th place after Lap 130 to complete Stage 1.

The No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota moved up to 13th by Lap 180 but a lack of forward drive dropped Jones to 16th by Lap 230 when he was passed by the leader. He would maintain that position by the end of Stage 2 after Lap 260.

Jones spun exiting Turn 4 on Lap 317, resulting in damage to the left-rear of the No. 77 Toyota. Quick work by the Furniture Row Racing pit crew repaired the damage enough for Jones to continue though he was then mired in the 29th position. With passing at a premium on the tight Martinsville racing surface, Jones was able to pick up three spots before the checkered flag waved five laps into overtime.

Kyle Busch won the race. The balance of the top-10 finishers were Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

There were 11 cautions for 74 laps and 10 lead changes among six drivers.

The next race on the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth.