Rookie Report: Bojangles’ Southern 500
Jones rounds up third consecutive top-five finish
By Dominic Aragon
September 4, 2017
All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 40 starters in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway Saturday.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
NO. 13 TY DILLON
Dillon tied his season and career-high finish with his 13th-place result at Darlington.
Dillon started the race 25th. The Germain Racing driver finished the first stage 14th and the second stage 16th.
Running a Smokey Yunick/Johnny Rutherford throwback paint scheme, picked up his best finish since Talladega in May.
“It was a good day,” Dillon said. “My first Southern 500, I enjoy it. I love this race track. I just love when you come to a track and the tires get worn out and you’ve got to be patient.
“And you’ve got to treat that throttle pedal like an egg and you can really make a lot of difference on a long run.”
With one race left before the start of the playoffs, Dillon has to win at Richmond in order to qualify for the post-season.
NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
Suarez fell out of the race with damage to his racecar, his second crash in three races.
Suarez started the race in 19th and finished the first stage of the race in 16th.
During the second stage of the race, Suarez made contact with the Turn 1 wall on lap 125. The damage his racecar experience was too extensive to continue the race. He completed a total of 125 laps, finishing 38th.
According to the team, Suarez was evaluated and released from the infield care center.
Suarez is in a must-win position in order to qualify for the playoffs.
NO. 23 COREY LAJOIE
LaJoie started and finished in the same positions in his last Cup Series race two weeks ago at Bristol.
Sporting a Davey Allison throwback paint scheme, LaJoie started the race in 35th.
The BK Racing driver finished the first two stages in 28th. He would go on to finish the race in 28th, seven laps down.
NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Jones racked up his third straight top-five finish in the Cup Series and fourth this season.
Jones started the race 10th, the highest of the rookies.
Jones finished the first stage in sixth and the second stage in 15th, earning a total of five stage points.
“Good night for the 5-hour ENERGY Camry,” Jones said. “A top-five here, We’ll take it. That’s three top-fives in a row for us.”
Jones must win at Richmond to qualify for the postseason.
NO. 83 GRAY GAULDING
In his first race back with BK Racing since June, Gaulding did not finish the race.
Gaulding started the race in 36th, the lowest of the rookies.
Gaulding finished the first stage of the race in 34th, three laps down and the second stage in 33rd, seven laps down.
Gaulding ultimately finished the race 36th, out after an accident.
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John K Harrelson / Harrelson Photography Inc.
NASCAR Media Group
ROOKIE FINISHES AT DARLINGTON, RACE 25/36
5) Erik Jones
13) Ty Dillon (-1 LAP)
28) Corey LaJoie (-7 LAPS)
36) Gray Gaulding (OUT)
38) Daniel Suarez (OUT)
UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER DARLINGTON
14) Erik Jones
17) Daniel Suarez
24) Ty Dillon
34) Corey LaJoie
35) Gray Gaulding
TOP FINISHING ROOKIES BY TRACK
1) Daytona; Corey LaJoie (24th)
2) Atlanta; Erik Jones (14th)
3) Las Vegas; Erik Jones (15th)
4) Phoenix; Daniel Suarez (7th)
5) Auto Club; Daniel Suarez (7th)
6) Martinsville; Erik Jones (12th)
7) Texas; Ty Dillon (17th)
8) Bristol; Ty Dillon (15th)
9) Richmond; Daniel Suarez (12th)
10) Talladega; Ty Dillon (13th)
11) Kansas; Daniel Suarez (7th)
12) Charlotte; Erik Jones (7th)
13) Dover; Daniel Suarez (6th)
14) Pocono; Erik Jones (3rd)
15) Michigan; Erik Jones (13th)
16) Sonoma; Daniel Suarez (16th)
17) Daytona; Erik Jones (9th)
18) Kentucky; Erik Jones (6th)
19) New Hampshire; Daniel Suarez (6th)
20) Indianapolis; Daniel Suarez (7th)
21) Pocono; Daniel Suarez (7th)
22) Watkins Glen; Daniel Suarez (3rd)
23) Michigan; Erik Jones (3rd)
24) Bristol; Erik Jones (2nd)
25) Darlington; Erik Jones (5th)