A banner day for Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Erik Jones

LONG POND, PA - JUNE 11: Erik Jones, driver of the #77 GameStop/Cars 3 - Driven to Win Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Axalta presents the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 11, 2017 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Erik Jones got a taste of the high life on Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Running third in the closing laps of the Axalta presents the Pocono 400, Jones watched Ryan Blaney outduel Kevin Harvick for the victory – and wanted to be up there with them.

Third was a career best for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, but Jones has his sights set on loftier goals.

“It’s great to run up there and it feels really good to get a top five, but, man, when you’re that close and you’re seeing them battle for the win and you’re right there trying to pounce and make a move, it definitely makes you eager to go up there and try to get it.

“Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come, and hopefully we can keep running well and keep getting in contention for more.”

The race unfolded in nearly ideal fashion for the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing team. The Toyota was a long-run car, and there were plenty of long runs in Sunday’s race. And Jones held his position after the final caution on Lap 141 despite taking two tires on the last pit stop.

“We needed a lot of green flag runs and we got that today,” Jones said.  “We got plenty of green flag runs. It worked out really good.

“The late caution, I kind of thought that was going to throw a kink in our day. Obviously, I was pretty content with where we were running. Came in, luckily two tires worked out for us just fine. We were able to get clear up into third and kind of hang out there for the rest of the race.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.