Rookie Report: Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race
Jones comes up one position short of first win
By Dominic Aragon
August 20, 2017
All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 40 starters in the Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
NO. 13 TY DILLON
Dillon posted his third DNF of 2017 and tied his lowest finish of the season at Bristol.
Dillon started the race 22nd. He was 24th in the first stage and 25th, two laps down in the second stage.
Dillon was involved in two incidents during the third stage, ultimately knocking the driver out of the race. He completed 394 laps and finished 36th.
“We had a couple pit road penalties and ended up three laps down. We earned one back and felt like we were fast enough to get more laps back. We got into the wall a little earlier on and probably weakened the ball joint a little bit. We hit the wall again and the car is done. It was a really rough night but we did seem to have good speed in our car tonight.”
With two races left before the playoffs begin, Dillon is mathematically ineligible to qualify for the postseason on points alone. A victory in one of the next two races would negate that.
Dillon dropped to 24th in driver’s standings with the result.
NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
Suarez finished 15th on the lead lap in his second Cup Series start at Bristol.
Suarez, who started 12th, finished the first stage 18th and the second stage 14th.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver ran as high as third position during the race, according to loop data.
Suarez remains 17th in driver’s standings, mathematically ineligible for the playoffs on points alone.
NO. 23 COREY LAJOIE
LaJoie finished 28th, five laps down.
The BK Racing driver started the race 35th. LaJoie finished 30th in the first two stages of the race.
LaJoie remains 34th in driver’s standings, ineligible for a playoff berth.
NO. 55 GRAY GAULDING
Gaulding finished 31st in his first Cup Series start since Pocono.
Gaulding started 37th, the lowest of the rookies.
The Premium Motorsports driver finished the first stage in 36th, three laps down, and the second stage 34th, five laps down.
In his fifth race with Premium Motorsports, Gaulding finished 31st, 12 laps down. He remains 35th in driver’s standings, ineligible for a playoff berth.
NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Jones led the most laps and picked up his highest-career Cup Series finish at Bristol.
Jones was the first rookie since Chase Elliott at Talladega in May of 2016 to start on the pole.
Jones finished stage one in second and stage two in fifth, earning a total of 15 stage points.
In total, Jones led nine times for a total of 260 laps. He finished second to Kyle Busch.
“I thought we had a really good day and we fought hard all day,” Jones said. “We had our ups and downs and led a lot of laps and didn’t have quite enough at the end.
“Kyle is really good here. But we had a good 5-Hour Energy Camry. Just needed a little more at the end. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t have it. I did what I could, but it just wasn’t quite enough.”
Jones remains 16th in driver’s standings and has to win a race to qualify for the playoffs.
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Jerry Markland/Getty Images
ROOKIE FINISHES AT BRISTOL, RACE 24/36
2) Erik Jones
15) Daniel Suarez
28) Corey LaJoie (-5 LAPS)
37) Gray Gaulding (-12 LAPS)
36) Ty Dillon (OUT)
UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER BRISTOL, POINTS DEFICIT TO PLAYOFF CUTLINE
16) Erik Jones (-126)
17) Daniel Suarez (-163)
24) Ty Dillon (-305)
34) Corey LaJoie (INELIGIBLE)
35) Gray Gaulding (INELIGIBLE)
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)
24) Bristol; Erik Jones (2nd)