Truex Jr. Qualifies 4th, Jones 14th for Southern California Cup Race
March 24, 2017
Martin Truex Jr. saved his best of three qualifying runs for last, posting the fourth-fastest speed Friday at Auto Club Speedway. Erik Jones made a nice comeback in the second round to qualify 14th after an average run in the initial round of competition.
Truex will start Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Cup race from the outside of Row 2 in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota while his Furniture Row Racing teammate Jones will take the opening green flag in his No. 77 Toyota Service Centers Camry from outside of Row 7.
Truex was eighth fastest in each of the first two rounds. In the pole-shootout round of the top-12 qualifiers, Truex laid down his fastest lap on the bumpy 2-mile oval. His times and speeds in the three rounds were: 38.775 at 185.687, 38.818 at 185.481 and 38.630 at 186.384.
“We kept on working on the car all day long,” said Truex, who was 11th fastest in the earlier practice session. “The car was loose in the first two rounds and better in the final round. I also missed my line in turns 1 and 2 in the final round. The guys made good adjustments to get us a good starting spot for the race. This Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota has great speed, but we need to get it feeling right. We got real close with the feel in the final round and hopefully we’ll get real close again tomorrow in practice and have something for Sunday.”
Jones, who sat on the bubble in the first round (24th), picked up the pace in the second round. Though his 14th-place rank in the second round fell two positions short of making the final 12, the 20-year-old rookie was fairly pleased with the comeback.
“I made somewhat of a mistake between turns 1 and 2 in the first round of qualifying,” explained Jones. “I rushed the throttle and the No. 77 Toyota Service Centers Camry got tight but we were fortunate enough to make it to Round 2 from there. In Round 2, we were still just too tight in (turns) 1 and 2 to make a good lap. Turns 3 and 4 were all right but it just wasn’t enough to make the final round. We’ll just have to work hard in race trim tomorrow and get the 77 Camry ready for Sunday.”
Jones’ time and speeds in the first two rounds were: 39.311 at 183.155 and 38.973 at 184.743.
The pole winner was Kyle Larson. Rounding out the top-12 in order were: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Truex, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne.
Sunday’s Auto Club 400 will be televised on the FOX network, 1:30 p.m. MT (12:30 local PT).