Erik Jones after second place at Bristol: It hurts

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 19: Erik Jones, driver of the #77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DEWALT/Flexvolt Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 19, 2017 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

He did almost everything right. Furniture Row Racing driver, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie, Erik Jones came up one spot short of his first win Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

A day after winning his first career pole Jones grabbed the lead early and held off some serious competition. Prior to Saturday he had led 50 laps in 23 race this season; he led a race high 260 at Bristol.

Just over 60 laps from the end however, Jones lost the lead and eventually the race, coming up short of catching race winner Kyle Busch.

“You know, you don’t want to sound like you’re whining or being a sore loser by saying it sucks to run second, but it’s a bummer,” Jones said.  “It hurts.  You know, you want to win every race you’re in.  This was the first shot that I really had to come really close to it in the Cup Series.  Bristol is a really good racetrack for myself.  Thought we had a shot at it all night, led a ton of laps.”

The driver who beat Jones is the driver who helped put Jones into the upper levels of NASCAR. It was Busch who noticed Jones’ talent at the Snowball Derby, a late model race held in Pensacola Florida each winter.  Jones beat Busch there in 2012. Busch helped pave the way for Jones.

Unlike 2012 however, Saturday Jones didn’t beat Busch.

“That good of a car, it’s Kyle Busch,” Jones said.  “He won all three races here this weekend.  So I feel like I’m close to him here, just trying to find that last little bit.”

Despite the runner up finish, Jones was able to at least do one thing: have fun

“It takes you back to, you know, late model racing really more than anything,” he said of the racing at Bristol.  “You’re just on the gas.  You’re not saving tires.  You’re just hammer down and getting everything you can, which is a lot of fun.  It’s hard on you as a driver, it wears you out, but you definitely have a lot of fun.

“If I had to rank it, this is probably the most fun I’ve had in a Cup race, for sure.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 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 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.