Erik Jones Starts the Playoffs with Pole in Las Vegas

by Justin Schuoler On Sat, Sep. 15, 2018

Erik Jones starts the Cup Series Playoffs hunt with a pole for the South Point 400. Photo by Rachel Myers for Speedway Media.
Erik Jones starts the Cup Series Playoffs hunt with a pole for the South Point 400. Photo by Rachel Myers for Speedway Media.

Erik Jones will kick off the playoffs by winning the pole for Sunday’s Inaugural South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series at 188.121 mph in 28.705 seconds.

“It’s exciting to be in the Playoffs for the first time,” proclaimed Jones. “In the Cup Series, you want to be in contention for a championship. This is our opportunity to do it this year. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to be a new experience.”

Joey Logano was 0.003 seconds off the top spot, and will start on Jones’s outside. Both drivers were the only competitors to run a 188 mph average speed in the final stage of qualifying.

“Just not quite fast enough. I hate being three-thousandths of a second off,” Logano shared as he was frustrated by the short margin. “I am proud of the effort everyone has put into this car. We have a good Pennzoil Ford to run here at Vegas. I am excited about that. Just didn’t finish the turn quite good enough. Got into the corner and turned the first part alright but couldn’t finish the center to the deepest point of the corner. So we will start second and race from there.”

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, who was hundredths of a second from being eliminated in the first round of qualifying, wound up third and fourth in the final stage of qualifying. Kevin Harvick was the only one of the “Big 3” to consistently run up front in all three stages of qualifying and will start fifth.

“It was good”, Harvick confidently stated. “We fought tight the whole time and at the last one I got it in there a little too high in turn one and could never really get it back to the bottom but it was still a good lap.”

The rest of the final stage results for positions six through twelve went to Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, the only non-Playoff contender in the final stage of qualifying.

Earlier Stages of Qualifying for the Inaugural South Point 400:

In the first stage of qualifying, Kevin Harvick held the top spot over Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and Client Bowyer. All playoff drivers made it to Round 2, but Kyle Busch bobbles in the middle of 3 and 4, almost costing him as he finishes 24th in the first round, barely edging out Regan Smith and Matt DiBenedetto.

The second stage had Erik Jones at the top of the charts with a slightly slower time than the first stage. Harvick, Logano, Hamlin and Larson was the top five positions going into the final stage. The Playoff drivers eliminated at the second stage were Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon.

Starting Lineup
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Inaugural South Point 400

Pos Car Driver Team Make
1 20 Erik Jones (P) DeWalt Toyota
2 22 Joey Logano (P) Pennzoil Ford
3 11 Denny Hamlin (P) FedEx Ground Toyota
4 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M’s Toyota
5 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Mobil 1 Ford
6 12 Ryan Blaney (P) PPG Ford
7 9 Chase Elliott (P) NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
8 41 Kurt Busch (P) Haas Automation Ford
9 88 Alex Bowman (P) Valvoline Chevrolet
10 78 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 5-hour ENERGY Toyota
11 42 Kyle Larson (P) DC Solar Vegas Strong Chevrolet
12 1 Jamie McMurray GEARWRENCH Chevrolet
13 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Autotrader Ford
14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SunnyD Ford
15 14 Clint Bowyer (P) One Cure Ford
16 10 Aric Almirola (P) Smithfield Ford
17 48 Jimmie Johnson (P) Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet
18 3 Austin Dillon (P) DOWFROST Chevrolet
19 19 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota
20 21 Paul Menard Menards/Aquafina Ford
21 24 William Byron # AXALTA Chevrolet
22 31 Ryan Newman Liberty National Chevrolet
23 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford
24 34 Michael McDowell Speedco/Rotella Ford
25 95 Regan Smith Procore Chevrolet
26 32 Matt DiBenedetto Zynga Poker Ford
27 38 David Ragan MDS Transport Ford
28 37 Chris Buescher Natural Light Race Day Resume Chevrolet
29 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet
30 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet
31 43 Bubba Wallace # World Wide Technology Chevrolet
32 72 Corey LaJoie Dragonchain Chevrolet
33 99 Kyle Weatherman StarCom Fiber Chevrolet
34 15 Ross Chastain(i) Xchange of America Chevrolet
35 96 Jeffrey Earnhardt American Soldier Network/Xtreme Concepts Chevrolet
36 23 JJ Yeley(i) Steakhouse Elite Toyota
37 00 Landon Cassill(i) StarCom Fiber Chevrolet
38 51 BJ McLeod(i) Jacob Companies Ford
39 66 Timmy Hill(i) Rewards.com Toyota
40 7 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet

(P) Playoff Contender
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
(#) Rookie

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