Furniture Row Racing driver Erik Jones was made available to the media at Richmond Raceway:
ERIK JONES, No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
How frustrating was it to have to sit there for an hour at the start of happy hour, and how detrimental is that in terms of your effort this weekend?
“Well, yeah, it’s frustrating for sure. You never want to have to miss out on practice. Is it that detrimental? Yeah, I mean, it hurts. For sure I think our last practice was pretty ‑‑ well, I wouldn’t say it hurt, but it just didn’t go the way we wanted it to. We only got to make two mock runs, and unfortunately we didn’t get to keep up with the racetrack like everybody else did and make adjustments throughout the day. But fortunately it’s a night race, so the track is going to be a lot different anyways. But it is always a bummer not to get out there and get track time. I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference once the race comes around. We do need to find some speed for qualifying for sure, but I feel like our race trim is pretty close to where it needs to be.”
Are you stressed at all about the race tomorrow night as you try and make it into the playoffs?
“I don’t really feel a ton of stress really. I think more than anything, I’ve just tried to put as much effort as I can into this weekend as a driver to be prepared and figure out exactly what I need to do. I’ve honestly felt just really locked in all week. I’ve felt like I’ve just been really excited to get here and get on track and get qualifying done and get the race going. I’ve just been really excited and really looking forward to it. I’m sure once the race rolls around here tomorrow night the nerves will be high and we’ll be itching to go and get things out of the way. But I think as a team we’re trying not to put too much more pressure on ourselves and just do what we’ve done here for the last month, and that’s just run well and be fast and run up front. You know, we just need to keep running the way we’ve been running, and that win is going to come. If you run up in the top five, eventually you’re going to be in a situation late to have a shot to win a race. Hopefully we can get it done this weekend. That’s what we need to do, and I think we’ve done everything in our power. I’ve done everything in my power to be in the position I need to be in to try to go out and win this race.”
After being referred to as the ‘Jones Boy’ during the last broadcast, have you been called that by anyone since then?
“Well, I was ‑‑ I got in the car, I rode down with my two buddies from Charlotte, and we got in the car, and I was reading through Twitter, and it was like, why is everybody saying that ‑‑ I really didn’t understand obviously because I didn’t watch the race. So I asked my buddy, and he just started laughing. I got it quite a bit this week. Not too much in person but a lot on Twitter from a lot of the fans and everyone else. But I didn’t mind it. I mean, that’s fine with me. I thought it was funny. I watched the race back, and I got a good laugh out of it. My buddies thought it was really funny when we were out on Monday celebrating Labor Day, they thought it was all pretty funny to call me ‘That Jones Boy’ all day that day. I think my grandpa used to call me that anyways, so it really didn’t sound that funny to me.”
At what point does pushing the limits of competition become blatant cheating?
“Well, I guess that’s up to kind of the eye of the beholder, you know. Everybody is pushing the limits along the way and trying to get the best and the most they can out of their race cars. Do I think disqualifications are necessary in NASCAR? No, I don’t really. You see in these late model races guys get thrown out because there’s no other way to penalize guys. They don’t race for points. We don’t go to the Snowball and race for points. We race for one race; we race to win that race, and if they were going to fine somebody five grand for cheating and winning the race, then everybody is going to cheat. We get docked points, and it’s a penalty, especially when we get close to playoff times for some of us, this penalty of getting docked points and encumbered finishes now is enough of a penalty. You see it with the 22 car obviously having ‑‑ his win was essentially taken away. The only thing that didn’t happen, he just got to take the trophy home and the money home but that’s it. So I think NASCAR has done a fine job of policing it the way they need to. Obviously I think the rules have become so tight and the tolerances have become so low that you’re bound to go over that limit at some point. You know, we’re going to push to the edge of those tolerances, and unfortunately sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”
Last weekend we saw Austin Cindric do what he needed to do to get a position in the playoffs. If you’re in that same position, would you do the same thing, considering where you are?
“No, I can’t ‑‑ I mean, I’m all for moving a guy out of the way when you need to make something happen, but honestly I felt like his move was fairly intentional in the sense that he was going to wreck him, he wasn’t going to try to pass him, which is ‑‑ it is what it is. I mean, if he thinks it’s okay, then that’s fine. That’s his choice. But I can’t see it coming down to the last corner and I’m on somebody’s bumper and just blatantly wrecking him or putting him into the wall. It’s not how I race, and it’s not how I grew up racing. I try to race guys how I’d want to be raced, and when it comes down to it, if you’ve got to make something happen, you’ve got to make something happen. But you know, I’m not much for just blatantly wrecking a guy. It’s just not really in my vocabulary.”
How rewarding has it been to have so much speed and consistency in recent weeks?
“Yeah, it’s been nice. I feel like there’s been a lot of times throughout the year where we’ve been fast and had shots to run in the top 5 and in the top 10 more than we have. We just haven’t executed at the end of these races and haven’t got some of the finishes I think we deserve. You know, to have it really all come around and come full circle at this point in the year and be getting finishes where I feel like we are capable of, yeah, it’s hugely rewarding. It’s huge for the team. It’s huge for everybody’s confidence, and it just gives us a lot of momentum week in and week out. We feel like we can run right up front with the best of them. You know, there’s a lot of times where I feel like at the beginning of the year we were getting runs taken away from us, but now, like I said, it’s coming around. We want to Darlington, I felt like we had maybe an eighth‑ to tenth‑place car and we ended up fifth. You know, we’re having days where we’re running better than I think we are. We’re having days where we’re right where we should be, and we’ve had some days where we’ve been in contention to win. So it’s been really rewarding to just stick with it all year and keep after it and keep plugging away to try to get these runs.”