NASCAR notebook: Jones scores first top-10 finish
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[March 20, 2017]
By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Erik Jones' No. 77
Furniture Row Racing team did everything right in Sunday's Camping
World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway -- except for predicting
how many cars would take two tires versus four on the final pit stop
Jones was running fifth when a melted bead caused Joey Logano's
right front tire to explode and sent the No. 22 Ford of the
polesitter into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 307 of a scheduled 312. Jones
took four tires under the ensuing caution and restarted 14th.
He was able to regain six positions in the two-lap overtime that
took the race to Lap 314, but for the third straight week, Jones
finished lower than where he had run for much of a Monster Energy
NASCAR Cup Series race. The eighth-place finish nevertheless was the
first top-10 of Jones' fledgling Monster Energy Series career.
"When you feel like you have a fifth-place car, you want to run
fifth, but it just didn't work out at the end," Jones said. "We had
a lot of guys take two (tires). A lot more than I thought would. A
lot more, obviously, than (crew chief) Chris (Gayle) thought would.
"We had a great restart and were able to get back up to eighth. Not
too much gain, not too much loss. A solid day for us. Definitely the
best day overall for the 5-Hour Energy Camry. Just well put
together. We got better all day, had good pit stops, good on pit
road, executed well and did everything we needed to do to run in the
Jones was one of two Sunoco rookies to get a maiden top 10 on
Sunday. Fellow Toyota driver Daniel Suarez finished seventh, gaining
five positions after the final restart.
STRATEGY PAYS OFF FOR STENHOUSE, TOO
Though Ricky Stenhouse Jr. didn't win Sunday's Camping World 500 at
Phoenix by staying out on old tires -- as Ryan Newman did -- the
driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford did hold onto fourth
place during a two-lap overtime.
That Stenhouse was able to score his eighth career top five is
emblematic of improved performance at Roush Fenway Racing, but
Stenhouse says there's still work to do.
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"I have definitely seen a difference in the quality
(of the RFR cars)," Stenhouse said. "We still have a long way to go,
but we've made a big improvement from last year, especially the end
of last year. In Atlanta, we had a really good car and got the right
front fender tore off on the last restart. I thought we would finish
fifth to 10th there. I thought we had a 15th place car in Vegas and
had an issue with the axle at the end.
"Today, I thought we had a 10th-place car on the long run and took a
gamble, and were able to get a better finish there at the end. I
think our cars and the attitude at the shop is really good.
(Teammate) Trevor (Bayne) has some solid finishes here in the first
few races, and that's something encouraging and something to build
off of. I feel like we have had speed, just haven't gotten the
finishes for the speed we have. It's better to have speed and have
to figure out how to get the finishes."
LOGANO'S DAY ENDS AT TURN 1 WALL
Joey Logano started Sunday's Camping World 500 from the pole and led
82 laps, but his race ended suddenly and dramatically when his right
front tire blew as the No. 22 Ford approached Turn 1 on Lap 307 of a
Logano's misfortune stalled a promising run by Kyle Busch -- his
adversary from a week ago at Las Vegas-and gave Ryan Newman's crew
chief, Luke Lambert, the opportunity to make the strategic call that
won the race.
"We just blew a right front," Logano said after exiting the infield
care center. "Probably just overheated the bead (an analysis
Goodyear subsequently confirmed). I'm sure that is what it was.
There's not much you can do when the right front blows out.
"We had a good car in the beginning of the race and then just fell
off and got a pit road speeding penalty, and it was hard to get back
up there. We were getting closer but our long run speed was off. We
have to figure out how to get faster here on the long run."
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