Rookie Report: Ford EcoBoost 400
Jones takes Rookie-of-the-Year honors
By Dominic Aragon
November 19, 2017
For the final time in 2017, four of the five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 39 starters Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
NO. 13 TY DILLON
Dillon finished 26th, three laps down in his final race as a Cup Series rookie.
Dillon was the only rookie with prior Cup Series starts (two) at Homestead-Miami entering the weekend.
Dillon, who started 32nd, finished Stage 1 (lap 80) in 22nd, one lap down, and Stage 2 (lap 160) in 20th, one lap down.
The Germain Racing driver finished 2017 24th in driver’s standings with a high finish of 11th-place twice and 10 top-15 finishes.
He was the highest finishing rookie in four races.
NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
Suarez posted his sixth DNF of the season with his 34th-place finish.
Suarez started 10th. The highest qualifying rookie finished the first and second stage in 14th.
Brake rotor issues during Stage 3 forced Suarez to take his No. 19 car to the garage.
“Disappointed for my car failure but Extremely happy for (Martin Truex Jr.) he is a great driver and ver(y) good person,” Suarez said on social media.
Suarez finished the year 20th in driver’s standings, with one stage win, one top-five finish and 12 top-10 finishes.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished as the highest rookie in 14 races this season.
NO. 23 COREY LAJOIE
LaJoie finished 31st, six laps down, in the season finale.
The BK Racing driver started the race in 34th. While running 33rd around the lap 30 mark, LaJoie was the first rookie to go one lap down.
LaJoie finished the first stage in 34th, two laps down, and the second stage in 32nd, three laps down.
LaJoie competed in 32 of the 36 points-paying races, however, elected for NASCAR XFINITY Series points in the last race of the season. He officially finished with zero points.
LaJoie’s best finish was an 11th at the Daytona race in July. He was the highest finishing rookie once this year with his 24th-place showing in the Daytona 500.
NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Jones capped off 2017 with Rookie-of-the-Year honors.
“It was a good year overall,” Jones said. “You know, we had a lot of good races and a lot of good things that we can look back on and be really proud of. I think back to the races we were in contention to win and shots we had—and it’s just nice in your rookie season to have that chance to win races.
“Wasn’t the night we wanted tonight, but definitely cool to at least get the accumulation of the year of being the best rookie.”
The Furniture Row Racing driver qualified 14th and finished Stage 1 in 17th and Stage 2 in 21st, one lap down.
Jones finished 21st, two laps down, as the highest finishing rookie.
Jones finished 2017 19th in driver’s standings, the highest of the rookies. He earned one pole, five top-five finishes and 14 top-10 finishes; the highest totals among all the rookies.
Jones was the highest finishing rookie in 16 races this year.
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Jonny Olkowski/The Racing Experts
ROOKIE FINISHES AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI, RACE 36/36
21) Erik Jones (-2 LAPS)
26) Ty Dillon (-3 LAPS)
31) Corey LaJoie (-6 LAPS)
34) Daniel Suarez (OUT)
UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER HOMESTEAD-MIAMI
19) Erik Jones
20) Daniel Suarez
24) Ty Dillon
34) 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)
34) Texas; Erik Jones (10th)
35) Phoenix; Erik Jones (4th)
36) Homestead-Miami; Erik Jones (21st)