Rookie Report: I Love New York 355 at the Glen
Suarez becomes first rookie to record stage win


By Dominic Aragon
August 6, 2017

Four of the five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 37 starters in the I Love New York 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International Sunday.

Two rookies finished inside the top 10, while Daniel Suarez became the first rookie to win a stage in the Cup Series in 2017.

Below is a breakdown of how each fared.

NO. 13 TY DILLON
Making his 40th Cup Series start, Dillon picked up his fourth consecutive top-20 finish in his second road course start in NASCAR’s premiere series.

Dillon, who started 24th, finished the first stage (lap 20) 17th and the second stage (lap 40) 16th.

The Germain Racing driver commented on the art of strategy and playing the fuel game at Watkins Glen.

“Fuel mileage games are always tricky, but everyone has to do their part,” he said. “The engineers have to do the math, I have to back down my entries and the spotters have to tell me who I’m racing in fuel-saving mode and who is packed full coming up behind me.

“It’s a team effort, and we all did our jobs today to get it home with fuel in the tank and a top-20 finish.”

With four races left before the playoffs begin, Dillon remains 24th in driver’s standings, 259 points behind a playoff-eligible position. He lost 25 points to the cutline with his result at Watkins Glen.

Matt Kenseth, who is ninth in driver’s standings, holds the final eligible playoff position with 637 total points.

NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
For the fourth consecutive race, Suarez was the highest finishing rookie in the Cup Series.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started the day with a fifth-place starting position, the highest of the rookies. During the first stage, Suarez pit with three laps to go in the stage to set up a pit strategy. He finished the stage in 22nd.

During the second stage, Suarez cycled to the lead and held off Martin Truex Jr. to win the second stage, earning ten stage points to his total for the race. It was the first time in 2017 a rookie won a stage in the Cup Series.

Suarez, who led a career-high 14 laps, eventually finished in third place. The result was his fourth consecutive top-10 finish and eighth of his career.

“To be that close is tough,” Suarez said. “It’s a tough feeling, but I’m proud of all of these guys. I was telling my guys that I’m going to take the fuel tank out myself to see how much fuel we’ve got left and if we have half a gallon I want to feel bad to myself because I felt like I should’ve pushed little bit more.

“You never know if those guys were running out and I could win this thing. But, I’m just so proud of these guys. Everyone that put this program together, I'm very happy to be a small part of it.”

Suarez picked up two positions in driver’s standings and sits 15th overall, 129 points behind the playoff cutline. Suarez gained one point on the cutline from last week.

NO. 23 COREY LAJOIE
LaJoie started 36th and finished 33rd one lap down.

The BK Racing driver finished the first stage in 32nd and the second stage in 22nd.

LaJoie, the lowest starting rookie at the Glen, was the lowest finishing rookie. He remains 34th in driver’s standings, ineligible for the playoffs.


NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Jones started and finished inside the top 10 in his 25th Cup Series start.

Jones finished the first stage 25th and the second stage fifth, earning six stage points.

Jones finished the race in 10th place, his seventh career top-10 finish.

“I had brake issues all day long and it was kind of the biggest fight for us,” Jones said. “Just could never quite get in the corner like we needed to so kind of fought that.

“The car was good. I thought we had a top-10 car, maybe a top-five car had circumstances played out. I had a bad stop and got boxed in behind the 43 [of Aric Almirola] so it just didn’t quite get the finish that we wanted.”

Jones sits 18th in driver’s standings, 160 points behind the playoff cutline. He lost 35 points to the cutline.

GRAY GAULDING
Did not start.

IMAGES
Kyle Stephens/The Racing Experts

SOURCES
Racing-Reference.info
Team Chevy
Toyota Racing

ROOKIE FINISHES AT WATKINS GLEN, RACE 22/36
3) Daniel Suarez

10) Erik Jones
19) Ty Dillon
33) Corey LaJoie (-1 LAP)

UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER WATKINS GLEN, POINTS DEFICIT TO PLAYOFF CUTLINE
15) Daniel Suarez (-129)
18) Erik Jones (-160)
24) Ty Dillon (-259)
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)
21) Pocono; Daniel Suarez (7th)

22) Watkins Glen; Daniel Suarez (3rd)

Will a rookie win a race this season?
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