Rookie Report: Overton’s 301
Suarez leads the way for rookies at New Hampshire
By Dominic Aragon
July 16, 2017
All five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 39 starters in the Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
NO. 13 TY DILLON
Dillon finished 16th on the lead lap in Loudon after starting the race 25th.
Dillon finished the first stage in 11th (lap 75) and the second stage in 19th (lap 150).
With seven races left before the start of the playoffs, Dillon unofficially remains 24th in driver’s standings, 202 points behind a playoff-eligible position.
Matt Kenseth, who is 11th in driver’s standings, currently holds the final playoff spot with 524 total points. Dillon lost 25 points to the playoff cutline from last week.
NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
Suarez finished sixth in his first start at New Hampshire, tying a career-high finish for his first top 10 in six races.
The highest finishing rookie started 14th, finishing the first stage in 21st and the second stage in 13th.
Suarez picked up his fifth top 10 of the season and finished as the highest rookie for the seventh time this season.
“It was a long day for sure, but, you know what, these guys never give up,” Suarez said. “They worked hard all weekend long just to make adjustments to the car and try to make the car a little bit better.
“The race track changed pretty much all weekend with the VHT and with the weather. I think today has been the sunniest day of the whole weekend, so we had a couple issues there on the pit road leaving my box on the stop, but very proud of these guys.
“We made some good adjustments in the last couple runs we were able to overcome for a good finish.”
Suarez remains 18th in driver’s standings, 120 points behind a playoff-eligible position. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver lost 15 points from last week to the cutline.
NO. 23 COREY LAJOIE
LaJoie started 31st and finished 31st, three laps down, in his second Cup Series start at New Hampshire.
LaJoie, in his second race in the No. 23 for BK Racing, finished the first stage 31st and the second stage 32nd, one lap down.
LaJoie remains 34th in driver’s standings.
NO. 55 GRAY GAULDING
Gaulding started 34th, the lowest of the ROTY candidates, in his second consecutive start for Premium Motorsports.
Gaulding was the first rookie to fall one lap down before the competition caution on lap 35.
The 19-year-old driver ultimately finished 35th, six laps down. He remains 36th in driver’s standings.
NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Jones’ day ended early as the Furniture Row Racing driver suffered his fifth DNF of 2017.
Jones started sixth, the highest of the ROTY candidates.
While running inside the top 10 during the first stage, Jones had a left-front tire failure on lap 41 in Turn 3 and hit the outside wall, stemming from contact with Kasey Kahne on pit road during pit stops under the competition caution.
Jones finished in last place (39th) for the second time this season.
“I thought we had probably an easy top 10 car, if not a few adjustments away from being a top-five car, so just really didn’t need a day like this trying to make the playoffs here,” Jones said.
“Feel like we’re going to work hard to try to get a win at this point. We’ll keep after it. Just need some good luck coming our way and hopefully we get it soon.”
Jones dropped three positions to 17th in driver’s standings, 97 points behind the last eligible playoff position. He lost 44 points to the cutline from last week.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
ROOKIE FINISHES AT NEW HAMPSHIRE, RACE 19/36
6) Daniel Suarez
16) Ty Dillon
32) Corey LaJoie (-3 LAPS)
35) Gray Gaulding (-6 LAPS)
39) Erik Jones (OUT)
UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER NEW HAMPSHIRE, POINTS DEFICIT TO PLAYOFF CUTLINE
17) Erik Jones (-97)
18) Daniel Suarez (-120)
24) Ty Dillon (-202)
34) Corey LaJoie (INELIGIBLE)
36) 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)