If one were to assume how the day would end for Erik Jones in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 based on how things were going early, the prediction probably wouldn’t have been pretty. But Jones rallied for a seventh-place finish at Sonoma Raceway.
“It was a great day for us, really,” said Jones. “I felt like it’s a little like a win for us.”
Easy to see why, as the No. 20 was damaged early on as Jones battled for position with Michael McDowell. In addition to a tire donut and some sheet metal damage on the right side of the car (pictured), the left-rear quarter panel bowed out over the tire, almost like a parachute.
A few laps later, Jones slid wide in the Turn 11 hairpin. He dropped as low as 28th on the leaderboard having started 20th.
In his debut Sonoma race a year ago, Jones finished 25th and going into Sunday’s race he took some extra seat time by competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race. Jones finished sixth in that race, and for the Cup race, he was merely looking for a top-15 result.
“And to get a top 10 is just a bonus,” said Jones. “Our DeWalt Camry was good all day. We struggled a bit on the first run. Once we got an adjustment under it and I started to get settled in and comfortable with racing through traffic, we just kind of started plugging along and picking up spots.
“Our strategy worked out for us. Great day, great rebound from Michigan (where he finished 15th). We’ll go to Chicago and look to improve from here.”