Rookie Report: Hollywood Casino 400

Crash takes out Jones, Suarez at Kansas

By Dominic Aragon
October 23, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Kan.—All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 40 starters Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Below is a breakdown of how each fared.

Dillon was the highest finishing rookie for the first time since Talladega Superspeedway in May.

Dillon started the race in 29th. He finished Stage 1 (lap 80) in 26th and Stage 2 (lap 160) in 22nd.

Dillon finished the race on the lead lap in 16th.

“Today was a definitely a crazy day at Kansas Speedway. With the changing track conditions as the sun set and shaded parts of the track, we had to be on top of the adjustments to our GEICO Chevrolet for the entire race.

“My team did a great job making calls, and I didn't struggle with balance much at all. Track position was just key, and it was hard to make passes out there. Overall, I think this was a good weekend and shows the improvements to our intermediate-track package.

“There’s still work to be done, but we are definitely getting closer.”

With four races left in the season, Dillon remains 24th in driver’s points.

For the second week in a row, Suarez crashed out of the race while running inside the top 10.

Suarez started the race in fifth, the highest starting rookie. He finished the first stage in 20th and second stage in 17th.

While running in sixth on lap 198, Suarez collected damage from contact with Erik Jones in a 14-car crash. The damage was too extensive for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to continue the race.

Suarez finished 36th, his fifth DNF of 2017.

“You have to thank NASCAR very much for all the work that they do on these race cars to make them very safe because I got hit from everywhere and I hit the 77 (Erik Jones) very, very hard,” Suarez said.

“I’m perfect, the car’s not, but I’m good. Honestly, I don’t really know what happened.

“I just know that the 77 got very loose somehow and the next thing I saw was his door and my nose. I really couldn’t do anything at that point, but I haven’t seen a replay yet.”

Suarez remains 20th in driver’s standings.


LaJoie was back behind the wheel of the No. 23 Toyota after not racing at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.

LaJoie started the race 34th. He finished the first stage 34th, two laps down, and the second stage 35th, four laps down.

LaJoie ultimately finished 27th, six laps down. He remains 34th in driver’s standings.

In his ninth start with Premium Motorsports in 2017, Gaulding finished 28th, six laps down.

Gaulding started 33rd, his highest start since Pocono Raceway in June.

While running 37th on lap 16, Gaulding went one lap down to leader Martin Truex Jr., the first driver to fall off of the lead lap. He finished the first and second stages in 36th.

“We struggled a little bit early with a tight car, and traffic,” Gaulding said. “...I’d get behind cars on restarts and I just really couldn’t really go anywhere.”

Gaulding remains 35th in driver’s standings.

Jones crashed out for the second consecutive Cup Series race.

Jones started sixth, his highest start since winning the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway eight races ago.

The Furniture Row Racing driver finished the first stage 10th and the second stage sixth, earning a total of six stage points. Jones was the only rookie to earn stage points at Kansas.

While running fourth on lap 198, Jones appeared to get loose off of Turn 2, collecting other drivers in what was ultimately a 14-car crash.

“I just lost it,” Jones said. “It’s unfortunate, we had a good run going up there in third place and thought we were going to have a top-five day.

“Wish we could have ran it out, but it’s just an unfortunate ending. A strong day nonetheless and we’ll come back stronger next week for Martinsville.”

Jones finished the race in 35th for his eighth DNF of 2017. He remains 19th in driver’s standings.

Dante Ricci/The Racing Experts

Team Chevrolet
Toyota Racing

16) Ty Dillon

27) Corey LaJoie (-6 LAPS)
28) Gray Gaulding (-8 LAPS)
36) Daniel Suarez (OUT)
37) Erik Jones (OUT)

19) 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)

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)