Erik Jones Rebounds from Mid-Race Setback to Finish 9th at ISM Raceway in the Ticket Guardian 500

(Mar. 11, 2018)

Sport Clips Racing logoBox Score Info:

RACE:  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – Ticket Guardian 500

TRACK:  ISM Raceway

DRIVER:  Erik Jones  

CAR:  No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry

START: 9th


LAPS:  312/312

POINTS STANDINGS: 15th (-75 points out of 1st)


Post-Race Highlights:

·        For round two of NASCAR Goes West, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) teams moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Phoenix, Arizona for the Ticket Guardian 500 at ISM Raceway.

·        Proven to be one Erik Jones’ best tracks on the circuit, the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry team entered the weekend with high hopes and after 312 laps around the Arizona track, walked away with a hard fought ninth-place finish and their second top-10 finish of the season.

·        Under sunny skies Sunday afternoon, the Ticket Guardian 500 got underway with Jones and the No. 20 team rolling off from the ninth starting position. Soon after the green flag waved, Jones began reporting to crew chief Chris Gayle where he needed to be better to advance his position on track. The team got their first opportunity to adjust on the No. 20 Camry when the caution flag was displayed on lap 24 for a single-car incident. The caution was also determined by NASCAR to serve as the competition caution originally schedule for lap 30. When pit road opened, Jones made his way to the No. 20 team for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The race restarted on lap 33 with Jones ninth.

·        Over the course of the final laps of stage one, Jones continued to update the team with how the handling of the No. 20 Sport Clips Camry changed and where he needed to be better on the track. Stage one ended on lap 75 and Gayle made the call to bring Jones back down pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments. The race restarted on lap 83 with Jones in the ninth position.

·        Continuing to struggle with the tight-handling condition of the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Jones was able to bring the car back to the attention of his crew during a caution on lap 122 for another round of adjustments, tires and fuel. The race restarted on lap 126 with Jones in the 11th position.

·        Quickly moving up to the 10th position, Jones radioed the team that he was still fighting the handling of the Sport Clips Cmary. The race was slowed on lap 145 for a single car incident and with a quick caution period, Jones pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help with the tight-handling condition. The race restarted on lap 149 for a one-lap shootout to end stage two. The caution flag waved on lap 150 to end the stage with Jones in the 16th position. Opting to stay out under the caution period, Jones restarted the race on lap 158 from the 10th spot.

·        Following the restart, Jones reported that he was still too tight, but as he made laps and adjusted the track bar in combination with the changes made by the team during the previous pit stop, the No. 20 Sport Clips Camry seemed to come around. Focused on one competitor at a time, Jones was able to move up to sixth before the caution flag waved on lap 190. The team called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. Unfortunately, contact with a competitor on pit road forced the team to bring Jones back to pit road to repair damage. The race restarted on lap 197 with Jones deep in the pack in the 28th position.

·        As spotter Rick Carelli helped Jones navigate traffic and reminded him to stay focused, be patient and take it one car at a time, Jones was able to move back in to the top 20 on lap 216 and returned to the top 15 on lap 237. 

·        With the final stage continuing under a long green-flag run, teams were forced to make green-flag pit stops with the No. 20 team hitting pit road on lap 254 for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. With several cars pushing the limit waiting for a caution, Jones was scored one lap down in the 13th position when he passed the leader on lap 281 to get back on the lead lap.

·        Remaining under green-flag conditions for the remainder of the race, Jones was able to move up a few positions to finish the race in the ninth spot for his second top-10 finish of the season. 

·        Kevin Harvick won his third consecutive race followed by Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex, Jr. to round out the top five.

·        For final round of NASCAR Goes West, teams will now head to Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 18, 2018. Tune to FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET for all of the action.


Post-Race Thoughts: Erik Jones:

How was your race today?

“It was kind of a struggle all day. The Sport Clips Camry fired off really tight and we had to fight all day to get it back to the balance we were looking for. We got it close there at the end. We were finally getting where we needed to be and came in sixth on the pit stop and got some damage on pit road. We had to go to the back and it just went green until the end. It was nice to be able to get back to ninth to get a top-10, but it would have been nice to race up there in the top-five. We’ll keep working at it. We just have to keep working on some stuff and some adjustments we make overnight and fire off these races a little bit closer. We’ll keep working that way and come out strong for the next one.”