At the 2018’s first stop at Texas Motor Speedway, Erik Jones celebrated his best finish of the 2018 season so far with a fourth-place finish, and his fourth top-ten finish of the season as well.
Jones said he was overall happy with his Texas Motor Speedway performance, but a bad qualifying session set them further back than Jones thought the car and team were capable of.
“We had some work to do early on to get up front,” he said.
“We gained some spots early. The pit crew did a phenomenal job, a huge step up for them. That’s something to really be proud of. They’ve had a rough few weeks. To get them into a groove where they’re hammering out some good stops was nice.”
The No. 20 driver said that overall his car was fast, but he didn’t think they had anything for either his teammate, Kyle Busch, or Kevin Harvick, who finished first and second respectively.
Staying Towards the Front
With several wrecks that took a lot of drivers out of contention at Texas Sunday, Jones said it was important to stay up front at Texas for multiple reasons.
“Number one, the wrecks, yeah, always seemed to kind of happen from eighth on back,” he said.
“Secondly, track position is huge here. It’s really tough to pass.”
Erik Jones said the No. 20 pit crew did a great job all day getting the team spots.
“We had a few on the racetrack, but it was pretty challenging,” he said.
Learning From the Leaders
The second-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver said that driving with the seasoned veterans around him always helps him learn something.
“They’re very fast,” he said.
“Kyle especially is very fast. It was fun racing with him. It was frustrating. I was sitting in second place watching him drive away about a half a car length a lap, kind of shaking my head.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver said his teammate, Busch is always there to challenge him
“It seems like every time I get to lead some laps, he comes up and spoils it,” Jones said.
“Hopefully one day we can get up there and challenge him for one of these wins. Like I said, along the way you always learn something. The way he was driving the track was a little bit different than myself. Felt like I learned something for when I come back. “
Success at Texas
Jones said it’s really tough to pinpoint why Texas Motor Speedway has been one of his more successful tracks.
“The old Texas, I remember the first time I came here, I didn’t like the place at all,” he said.
“The second time I liked it a little bit more. We won an Xfinity race here. I felt like I kind of slowly figured it out. Then we had a lot of success in the Xfinity Series along the way the last few years.
With the repave, they changed it quite a bit. I think overall it’s a good combination. I think I’m really comfortable here, really have a good idea what I want my car to do. Also, JGR is really fast here. They’ve been fast here for years on the old track, now on the new track. I think it’s just a good combination.
I was fortunate to be in that position, figure it out quickly, just the whole package kind of worked.”
Looking to Bristol
This coming weekend, the MENCS heads to Bristol Motor Speedway. Jones said he expects to contend for the win.
“I think going up and being up front again is what we should do,” he said.
“The track is going to be really similar. I believe they’re applying the VHT on the bottom again. We went there and tested last fall, did a tire test, we were really fast. Hopefully, we can just be quick again.
Obviously, there’s been some other manufacturers that are really strong this year, have been really fast, hard to beat. I think Bristol is a little bit different animal, such as Martinsville. So we’ll see.
But definitely, expectations are to run really well and lead some laps, contend.”
Qualifying for the Bristol Food City 500 is scheduled for Friday, April 13 at 4:45 pm, with television coverage on Fox Sports 1. The race is scheduled for Sunday, April 15 at 2:00 pm. The full NASCAR weekend schedule can be viewed at NASCAR.com.