Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Race 12 of 36 – 400.5 miles, 267 laps
May 11, 2019
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Brad Keselowski*
2nd, Alex Bowman*
3rd, ERIK JONES
4th, Kevin Harvick*
5th, Chase Elliott*
16th, DENNY HAMLIN
19th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
30th, KYLE BUSCH
36th, MATT DiBENEDETTO
38th, JOEY GASE
39th, TIMMY HILL
· Toyota driver Erik Jones was the highest finishing Camry driver in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Kansas Speedway claiming a third-place result, tying his season-best finish.
· Jones has now scored three straight top-10 finishes at Kansas Speedway.
ERIK JONES, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
What is your take on the discussion with Clint Bowyer post-race?
“I think it was just racing. We’re racing hard and this package kind of leads into a lot of blocking and a lot of protecting your position. When I take the white flag, I’m not going to give up a lane to give up two, three or four spots if he would have got to the inside. The DeWalt Camry was good. We had a car that could have won. We just got in the wrong spot at the end of the race and we weren’t able to capitalize on it. We’ll keep moving forward. It’s been two good weeks. This is the best car we’ve had in a long time – really since Texas. It’s nice to be up in contention and have that shot.”
What were the closing laps of this race like?
“It was kind of all over the map. When it started, we were kind of off and then we got better. Then we got off again and got better at the end. It was a good night and it was nice to have a shot at the win. The DeWalt Camry was for sure capable of winning. We just weren’t in the right situation and didn’t have some runs work out and the caution at the end. Just didn’t have the right push. Not a lot more you can ask for other than the win. Everybody did a great job, but it’s good momentum going on to two weeks now having good runs and having shots to run up front, it’s been nice after a rough month. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
What was the racing like tonight?
“That was scrappy. With this package you just have to be really scrappy and really fight for every spot. They’re just really valuable and really tough to get. We had a good car on top of that, it was a weird day. It was really up and down, but at the end of the day we had a good enough DeWalt Camry to win. Just weren’t able to get to the right spot. We ran out of time and ran out of getting the right runs and the right positions. Just didn’t quite work out, but a good car.”
How much did you have to fight for your positions tonight?
“I feel like I haven’t been aggressive enough with this package here in the first couple mile-and-a-half races. Everybody else was really on it and really aggressive with the blocking and the big moves. I figured it was my time to get in on the action. It didn’t work out, but I thought it was a step in the right direction. We were close.”
Do you think Brad Keselowski went early on the final restart?
“A little bit. I think he (Brad Keselowski) definitely went early. I expected it, but he maybe went 10 to 15 feet early. It’s the nature of the game and it’s hard to make that call. NASCAR isn’t going to make a stick-and-ball, strike call on that. We’ve all done it, we’ve all been there and it’s frustrating as a driver, but it happens.”
Was Clint Bowyer’s frustration at the end of the race justified?
“I’d be mad if I was him, but it’s just racing. I’ve been blocked a lot, especially with this package and I haven’t done a lot of blocking, so you have to get aggressive and fight for every position. That’s all I was doing at the end of the race. We were taking the white flag and you’re going for it. It’s unfortunate. You don’t want people upset, but feelings are going to get hurt and you’ll move on and we’ll be fine next week.”
Have the rules changed for blocking this year?
“I think a lot this year. I’ve seen it change quite a bit from the last couple with the low downforce package, it wasn’t really necessary to block. You can get some big runs with this package and it really lends to a lot of big moves and unfortunately, you’re going to have to throw big blocks to defend those at the end of the race especially. It changes a little bit.”
Why do you think we saw different drivers at the front of the field tonight?
“I think it’s part package and part the way the race played out. It kind of really got jumbled up with that caution there with about 40 (laps) to go. Mixed a different bag of drivers up front and different guys than I had raced all night up there. Also, the package tonight was the closest iteration that NASCAR is, what I’m guessing, shooting for. We were very close to wide open and there was definitely some pack racing moments after the restarts and stuff like that. Both of those things combined lent to that.”
Did you feel you should have been the leader on one of the closing cautions based on other cars pitting?
“I haven’t talked to NASCAR yet. I hope we can sort it out. I don’t know if they made a mistake or if I’m looking at it wrong, but we beat the pace car and we were on the lead lap. We didn’t pit, but we started behind the guys that did pit. I was just confused and am confused about it so hopefully we can figure that out.”
Is there anything you could have done differently on the final restart?
“I don’t know. It’s tough. It’s really up to the pusher and I really wasn’t getting any help. The 2 (Brad Keselowski) got a lot of help from the 88 (Alex Bowman) and I thought I was in a good spot on the top, but the guys behind me just weren’t able to give me the pushes I needed. I don’t know what else I could have done there.”
Are you encouraged by this race tonight?
“Last week was just a real low-key week for us where we ran good, but we didn’t have anything big happen. Today we were really up and down. We had a really good car, then a really bad car and then we ended with a good car. We were kind of all through the field a couple times so it’s encouraging to know we can come back from those things.”