CONCORD, N.C. – Erik Jones was the designated driver for TV exhibition runs at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, Jones made a rookie mistake in the NBC Sports show car.
Coming off Turn 4 and into the tri-oval at the 1.5-mile track, Jones guided the car up to the outside wall, unaware that the crossover steps leading down from a gate just before the start / finish line were still in place. You can guess the rest. The right front of the car hit the metal stairs and demolished them. Jones never saw the steps.
“It definitely was a surprise,” Jones said after the NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers’ meeting. “I knew I’d hit something, obviously, but had no idea what it was or that it was as big as it was. I would have never guessed it was some stairs. It was definitely a weird way to start the day.”
Saturday may have been weird, but Friday was downright disappointing for the driver for the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. Jones’ car didn’t pass inspection in time to make a qualifying run for Sunday’s Bank of America 500. Accordingly, he’ll start 38th.