Erik Jones Eager to Compete at The Last Great Colosseum
April 18, 2017
A race track nicknamed The Last Great Colosseum may seem like a foreboding place for a NASCAR Cup Series rookie but for Furniture Row Racing’s Erik Jones it’s a familiar place where he expects to be a strong contender in the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota Camry.
Jones made his Bristol Motor Speedway debut Aug. 22, 2014, qualifying sixth and finishing eighth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race for Joe Gibbs Racing. He then qualified on the pole and finished fourth in XFINITY Series race the following spring, and started fourth and finished sixth in his lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the high-banked 0.533-mile oval.
Jones earned a Bristol victory from the pole in the spring 2016 XFINITY Series race and was running ninth in the summer race, after again starting from pole, when a multi-car crash on Lap 245 took him out of the competition for a 33rd-place finish. His overall Bristol record includes one victory, two top-five and four top-10 finishes and three poles in just five starts.
“We’ve always run decent at Bristol Motor Speedway and we got the win there last season in the XFINITY Series so it’s always a lot of fun going back,” said Jones. “I really feel like Bristol is kind of like the tracks where I grew up racing and recently I figured out more about it so, hopefully, I can take a lot of that experience over to the Sport Clips Toyota Camry and we can be just as good.”
The 20-year-old Byron, Mich., native is currently 14th in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series driver standings after a 22nd-place finish April 9 at Texas Motor Speedway. His 159 points place him four behind Ryan Newman for 13th and 39 behind Kevin Harvick for 10th.
“Making a qualifying run at Bristol is fun but it’s intense,” Jones continued. “I’m sure it was even more intense when you only got one shot at putting down a fast lap but it’s still hard to knock that one big lap off. You have to carry a lot of speed so it’s really a pretty intense lap.”
In the six races since finishing 39th in the Daytona 500, the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing team has an average starting position of 13.6 and an average finishing position of 13.8, the ninth-best in the NASCAR Cup series over that time.
The 500-lap, Food City 500 will consist of three stages of 125/125/250 laps (laps 125/250/500). In each of the first two stages, drivers finishing in the top-10 will receive championship points (10 to 1) with the winner receiving one playoff point. The overall race winner will earn 40 championship points and five playoff points. Playoff points accumulated during the season will carry through the first three of the four playoff rounds.
Sunday’s Food City 500 will air live beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Fox network. Qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) is scheduled for Friday at 4:45 p.m. ET on FS1.