Talladega, Ala. – A multicar crash with 20 laps remaining in the GEICO 500 took out both Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camrys, ending two strong runs for a potential victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. were both in contention on lap 168 of the scheduled 188 laps when contact ahead of them collected a total of 18 cars. The drivers were able to get their cars back to pit road but the resulting extensive damage prevented them from continuing. Jones’ No. 77 ToyotaCare Toyota was scored in the 33rd position and Truex’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boasts Toyota was scored 35th.
Though his 35th-place result was disappointing, Truex did find some solace after the dust settled on the 2.66-mile oval. He finished fourth in both stage races, picking up 14 championship points. He also remains in second place in the driver standings.
“Our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota was just unbelievable today,” said Truex. “It was so fast we felt like we were in pretty good position most of the day. However, we got shuffled to the outside one time and got us in a bad spot as they wrecking in front of me. All I saw were spinning cars, lots of smoke and no place to go. It’s a shame, but that’s the way it goes here. Unfortunately for us, Talladega has been a tough one to finish, but we did get stage points today so that’s a bonus. At least it’s better than running all day and crashing out and not getting anything. All in all, it’s one of those deals and it’s Talladega. Looking forward to Kansas next week for sure.”
Jones ran strong all day, finishing 10th in the first stage and ninth in the second to earn three additional championship points. He also battled back from two mishaps on pit road, including a punctured right-rear tire that occurred shortly after leaving his pit stall. But when The Big One happened there was nowhere to go.
“I just saw the 24 (Chase Elliott) get loose,” said Jones. “I’m sure somebody got into the back of him. But you know when you’re in the middle like that and you see somebody wrecking and coming back up the track, there’s only so much you can do. Avoiding the wreck is not usually one of those things. I thought we had a pretty good ToyotaCare Camry. We ran up toward the top 10 most of the day. We made it into the top five a few times and I really think we would’ve had a shot to go up there and run well at the end. I was waiting for about 10 to go. They were starting to race pretty hard and unfortunately we got caught up in the wreck.”
Jones is 20th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in overtime. Rounding out the top 10 in order were Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard and David Ragan.
The race had eight cautions for 33 laps and 26 lead changes among 14 drivers. The race was also red-flagged for approximately 27 minutes from the Lap 168 incident.
The next Cup race is Saturday, May 13, at Kansas Speedway.