Rookie Report: First Data 500
No rookies finished in the top 10 for second consecutive week
By Matt Courson
October 29, 2017
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 40 starters Sunday in the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
NO. 13 TY DILLON
Dillon started the race in the 26th position. While running 25th in Turn 2 on lap 35, Dillon made contact with the No. 95 of Michael McDowell. As a result, Dillon’s car spun around on the track and suffered damage on the left side.
However, Dillon would suffer a flat left-rear tire on lap 56 and had to make a unscheduled stop for repairs.
Dillon finished the first stage in 39th position and the second stage in 34th.
The driver of the No. 13 Geico Chevrolet ended up finishing in 30th, four laps down.
“We were able to run competitive speeds during the long green flag runs,” Dillon said. “Unfortunately, it was an uphill battle for us after we had the early problems.
“We knocked a hole in the left front and sustained some left rear damage when we were part of the first caution, then we ended up getting a flat left rear tire. We were never able to get all those laps back.”
With three races left in the season, Dillon remains 24th in driver’s standings.
NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
Daniel Suarez was looking for redemption at the Martinsville Speedway after finishing 32nd in March.
Suarez started the race in the 15th position, and finished the first and second stages in 20th and 17th respectively.
The No. 19 Arris Toyota driver finished the event in the 15th position, the highest of the rookies.
Suarez is currently 20th in driver points.
NO. 23 COREY LAJOIE
Corey Lajoie started the race in the 36th position, the lowest among the rookies.
Lajoie improved to the 30th position after the Stage 1 conclusion, and 30th in the second stage.
LaJoie ultimately finished 33rd.
“We had a decent car, we were actually in a decent position too. Erik Jones just drove into my left rear three times and cut it down. He’s (inaudible) golden boy, can’t do no wrong.”
LaJoie remains 34th in driver’s standings.
NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Erik Jones began the event in the eighth, the highest of the rookies.
Jones finished Stage 1 in 18th and Stage 2 in 16th.
Jones, who acquired damage in a crash in Stage 3, ultimately finished 26th, one lap down.
“Well it wasn’t very good, you know,” Jones said. “I don’t know where we finished, but it wasn’t very far up so just a tough day but we’re finally getting a little better and figuring out what we need to do for next time.”
Jones remains 19th in driver’s standings, the highest of the rookies.
NO. 83 GRAY GAULDING
Gray Gaulding began the First Data 500 in the 35th position.
Gaulding improved slightly throughout the race, finishing the first and second stages in 32nd and 31st.
Gaulding ultimately finished the event in the 31st position, four laps down.
Gaulding remains 35th in driver’s standings.
ROOKIE FINISHES AT MARTINSVILLE, RACE 33/36
15) Daniel Suarez
26) Erik Jones (-1 LAP)
30) Ty Dillon (-4 LAPS)
31) Gray Gaulding (-4 LAPS)
33) Corey LaJoie (-5 LAPS)
UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER MARTINSVILLE
19) Erik Jones
20) 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)
26) Richmond; Erik Jones (6th)
27) Chicagoland; Daniel Suarez (12th)
28) New Hampshire; Erik Jones (6th)
29) Dover; Daniel Suarez (8th)
30) Charlotte; Daniel Suarez (6th)
31) Talladega; Gray Gaulding (9th)
32) Kansas; Ty Dillon (16th)
33) Martinsville; Daniel Suarez (15th)
Haley Rapier/The Racing Experts Jonny Olkowski/The Racing Experts