Erik Jones Scores First Top-Ten in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Erik Jones, driver of the #77 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota, stands in the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 18, 2017 in Avondale, Arizona. Photo – Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Erik Jones’ No. 77 Furniture Row Racing team did everything right in Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway—except for predicting how many cars would take two tires versus four on the final pit stop before overtime.

Jones was running fifth when a melted bead caused Joey Logano’s right front tire to explode and sent the No. 22 Ford of the polesitter into the turn one wall on lap 307 of a scheduled 312. Jones took four tires under the ensuing caution and restarted 14th.

He was able to regain six positions in the two-lap overtime that took the race to lap 314, but for the third straight week, Jones finished lower than where he had run for much of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. The eighth-place finish nevertheless was the first top-ten of Jones’ fledgling Monster Energy Series career.

“When you feel like you have a fifth-place car, you want to run fifth, but it just didn’t work out at the end,” Jones said. “We had a lot of guys take two (tires). A lot more than I thought would. A lot more, obviously, than (crew chief) Chris (Gayle) thought would.

“We had a great restart and were able to get back up to eighth. Not too much gain, not too much loss. A solid day for us. Definitely the best day overall for the 5-Hour Energy Camry. Just well put together. We got better all day, had good pit stops, good on pit road, executed well and did everything we needed to do to run in the top-ten.”

Jones was one of two Sunoco rookies to get a maiden top-ten on Sunday. Fellow Toyota driver Daniel Suarez finished seventh, gaining five positions after the final restart.