Rookie Report: Federated Auto Parts 400
No rookies qualify for the playoffs at Richmond

By Dominic Aragon and Matt Courson
September 10, 2017

RICHMOND, Va.—All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 39 starters in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway Saturday night.

Below is a breakdown of how each fared.

Dillon failed to finish on the lead lap, extending his streak of finishing off the lead lap in Cup Series race to three consecutive.

Dillon started the race in 32nd. He finished the first stage in 23rd and the second stage in 27th, one lap down.

Dillon eventually finished 22nd, one lap down.

“We worked on this GEICO Chevrolet SS all weekend,” Dillon said. “I thought maybe we’d learned something last night that could help us tonight, but it turned out that chassis adjustment didn’t apply tonight.

“The pit crew turned in some great stops tonight and we made some positive adjustments to the car, we just didn’t have the lateral grip we needed.

“It was a tough night, but we battled through it and this Germain Racing team will be better when we come back here next year.”

Dillon remains 24th in driver’s standings after his result at Richmond.

Three of the rookies could have made the playoffs with a victory Sunday night.

With none of the rookies qualifying for the playoffs, the highest they can finish in driver’s standings is 17th.

Suarez started 16th in his second Cup Series start at Richmond.

Suarez started 18th, and finished stage one in 18th and stage two in 23rd.

Suarez managed to finish the race in seventh, his first top-10 finish in four races and ninth career top-10 finish in the series.

“I think it was a solid good race,” Suarez said. “A solid second part of the race. In the first half, we were struggling a little bit. We were top 15 car but by the end of the race.

“The guys did a very good job and we made some good adjustments in the race and were able to make the race car better and be a competitive race car right there at the end, so very proud of the effort.”  

Suarez dropped from 17th to 20th in driver’s standings.

Gaulding finished 35th, 11 laps down, in his first race back in the No. 23 car since June.

Gaulding started the race 34th, the lowest of the rookies. He finished the first and second stages in 34th off the lead lap.  

“Just wasn’t very good all night,” Gaulding said. “I mean, we just struggled. We just missed it, the car was horrible. No turn in the middle, no grip off, It was just one of those nights, you know.

“So we got to move on and just keep digging but it’s kind of frustrating because this is probably my best track and just to be able to have that car handle like that’s just really frustrating.”

Gaulding remains 35th in driver’s standings.

Jones extended his consecutive top-10 finish streak in the Cup Series to six races.

Jones started the race 10th, the highest of the rookies.

The Furniture Row Racing driver finished the first stage in seventh and the second stage in third, earning a total of 12 stage points.

Jones ran as high as third, but ultimately settled for sixth place. The result was his 11th career top-10 finish.

“I just missed third gear and messed up,” Jones said in reference to the overtime restart. “I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever missed a shift before. It’s just really disappointing. I really hate it for my guys and hate that we didnt at least get a shot at it.

“Would have loved to go after it, but the SiriusXM Camry was good all night. We were a top-five car all night.”

Jones was the highest finishing rookie for the fourth consecutive race and for the 12th time this season.

Jones fell from 14th to 18th in driver’s standings proceeding the race at Richmond.

LaJoie finished the race 29th, four laps down.

LaJoie started the race 33rd. He finished the first and second stages in 28th position.

The BK Racing driver remains 34th in driver’s standings.

Austin McFadden/The Racing Experts

Team Chevy
Toyota Racing

6) Erik Jones

7) Daniel Suarez
22) Ty Dillon (-1 LAPS)
29) Corey LaJoie (-4 LAPS)
35) Gray Gaulding (-11 LAPS)

17) Erik Jones
20) Daniel Suarez
24) Ty Dillon
34) Corey LaJoie
35) Gray Gaulding

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)
26) Richmond; Erik Jones (6th)

Will a rookie win a race this season?