Rookie Report: Quaker State 400
By Dominic Aragon
July 8, 2017
Four of the five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidates were among the 40 starters in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
NO. 13 TY DILLON
Dillon finished 33rd in his second series start at Kentucky in a race day plagued with tire and mechanical issues.
Dillon, who started 27th, experienced a tire rub on his left-front tire before the lap 10 mark. Additionally, brake issues forced the Germain Racing driver to pit road 15 laps into the race, repairs that sent him behind the wall.
Dillon returned the racetrack during the first stage, finishing 39th (lap 80). He finished the second stage (lap 160) in 34th.
“After the brake trouble we had early tonight, this GEICO Chevrolet SS team ended up really on a different mission tonight,” Dillon said.
“We made the most of our laps and gained some information for our mile-and-a-half program. If we could come back and run this race again tomorrow, there would be a much better outcome for this team.”
Dillon unofficially sits 24th in driver’s standings, 177 points behind a playoff-eligible position. Matt Kenseth, who is 11th in driver’s standings, holds the final eligible position with 478 points.
NO. 19 DANIEL SUAREZ
Suarez finished 18th, one lap down, after receiving damage in a four-car crash with two laps to go.
Suarez started the night ninth, the highest of the rookies. He finished the first stage in 19th and the second stage in 14th.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started the final stage on the lead lap, but fell one lap down during 100-lap green flag run.
The result was Suarez’s first finish off the lead lap in ten races.
Suarez is 18th in driver’s standings, 105 points behind a playoff-eligible position. He lost 14 points to the cutline from last week.
NO. 55 GRAY GAULDING
Mechanical issues relegated Gaulding to a 35th place finish.
Gaulding qualified 39th, the lowest of the rookies, in his first Cup Series race since Pocono and first start with Premium Motorsports.
Five laps into the race, Gaulding pulled his car behind the wall for a rear-axle issue. He returned to the race prior to the end of stage one.
Gaulding finished the first stage in 40th and the second stage in 37th.
Gaulding dropped one position in driver’s standings to 36th overall.
NO. 77 ERIK JONES
Jones finished as the highest rookie for the second consecutive race and fourth time in the last five races.
Jones started the race 14th and finished the first stage in eighth and the second stage in fifth, earning nine total stage points between the two top-10 finishes after each segment.
Jones was one of eight drivers to stay the lead lap during the 100-lap green flag run in the final stage. He was sixth at the time of the final caution.
When pit road opened under caution, Jones elected for four tires, and restarted third in NASCAR overtime. He ultimately finished sixth, his second consecutive top 10 finish.
“It was a good night for us,” he said. “You know we just, we didn’t have the track position all night and it was kind of unfortunate. I think we had a car that probably could’ve ran up with the 78 and the 18 at times.”
Jones is unofficially 14th in driver’s standings entering next weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 52 points behind a playoff-eligible position. He gained seven points towards the playoff cutline.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Matt Courson/The Racing Experts
ROOKIE FINISHES AT KENTUCKY, RACE 18/36
6) Erik Jones
18) Daniel Suarez
33) Ty Dillon (-21 LAPS)
35) Gray Gaulding (-67 LAPS)
UNOFFICIAL POINTS POSITION AFTER KENTUCKY, POINTS DEFICIT TO PLAYOFF CUTLINE
14) Erik Jones (-52)
18) Daniel Suarez (-105)
24) Ty Dillon (-177)
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)