Rookie Report: Brickyard 400
Suarez only rookie to finish on lead lap at Indianapolis
By Dominic Aragon
July 23, 2017
All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 40 starters in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
NO. 13 TY DILLON
Dillon started 28th and finished 19th, two laps down, in his first Cup Series start at Indianapolis.
The German Racing driver finished the first stage (lap 50) in 27th and the second stage (lap 100) in 24th.
During the third stage, Dillon ran inside the top 10 but was involved in two accidents.
“That was heartbreaking,” Dillon said of the final accident. “The GEICO Chevy crew did an awesome job keeping us in the game on pit road today.
“We made adjustments that helped the car and we learned so much that will help us when we come back to this place. This Germain Racing team worked so hard and we were in position for a good finish. I love Indy. I don't love leaving it with unfinished business like that. We will be back.”
Unofficially, Dillon remains 24th in driver’s standings, 226 points behind the playoff cutline. He added 24 points to his deficit with his finish at Indianapolis.
Matt Kenseth, who is ninth in driver’s standings, holds the final eligible playoff position with 566 points.
NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
Suarez left Indianapolis with his second consecutive top-10 finish in the Cup Series.
Suarez started 15th in his 20th career start, finishing the first and second stages in 15th.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished the race in seventh, the highest finishing rookie for the second consecutive race. It was Suarez’s sixth career top-10 finish.
“It was tough,” Suarez said. “I feel like we had an okay car, but it was a very crazy race. A lot of accidents and a lot of stuff going on right there at the end and we are lucky that we survived.”
Suarez has now finished as the highest finishing rookie for the eighth time in 2017.
Suarez remains 18th in driver’s standings entering next weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway. He is 132 points behind the playoff cutline, adding 12 points to his deficit at Indianapolis.
NO. 23 COREY LAJOIE
LaJoie finished last for the second time this season.
LaJoie started 32nd in his third start in the No. 23 car.
LaJoie brought out the first caution of the day on lap nine for a single-car accident in Turn 3.
The BK Racing driver finished in 40th, last place. The finish was LaJoie’s fourth DNF of 2017.
NO. 55 GRAY GAULDING
Gaulding experienced his fourth DNF of the season and first driving for Premium Motorsports.
Gaulding started 36th in his third start for Premium Motorsports this season.
The lowest starting rookie finished the first stage in 35th, one lap down, and the second stage 31st, one lap down.
Gaulding was running on the lead lap during NASCAR overtime when he was collected in an eight-car accident on the frontstretch on lap 163. He was unable to continue, falling out of the race and finishing 24th.
Gaulding picked up one position in driver’s standings and now sits 35th overall.
NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Jones did not finish Sunday for his second consecutive DNF and sixth of the season.
Jones started ninth in his first Cup Series start at Indianapolis. The highest starting rookie finished the first stage in 12th and second stage in fourth, earning seven stage points.
Jones led twice for a total of 10 laps in the race.
On lap 150, Jones was one of four driver involved in a crash on the frontstretch. The accident knocked him out of the race.
“It’s been the story of our season,” Jones said. “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 – I can at least, you know, the experience and the strategy here that plays out.
“And it’s a tough place, especially in a Cup car and I learned a lot to come back with next year.”
With six races before the playoffs start, Jones remains 17th in driver’s standings, 126 points behind the cutline. He lost 29 points from last week.
Daniel Shirley/Getty Images
Matt Courson/The Racing Experts
ROOKIE FINISHES AT INDIANAPOLIS, RACE 20/36
7) Daniel Suarez
19) Ty Dillon (-2 LAPS)
24) Gray Gaulding (OUT)
31) Erik Jones (OUT)
39) Corey LaJoie (OUT)
UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER INDIANAPOLIS, POINTS DEFICIT TO PLAYOFF CUTLINE
17) Erik Jones (-126)
18) Daniel Suarez (-132)
24) Ty Dillon (-226)
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)