Toyota NXS Bristol Post-Race Notes & Quotes

Toyota NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Bristol Motor Speedway
Race 7 of 33 – 106.6 miles, 200 laps
Saturday, April 16, 2016

38th, JJ YELEY

TOYOTA DRIVER NXS POINT STANDINGS following Bristol Motor Speedway (race 7 of 33)*
1st, DANIEL SUAREZ 242 points
2nd, ERIK JONES 236 points
14th, DAKODA ARMSTRONG 134 points
18th, DAVID STARR 112 points
*unofficial point standings
American Muscle

· Camry driver Erik Jones was victorious in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
· After starting from the pole position, Jones led all 50 laps of the first heat race enabling him to keep his front row starting position for the 200-lap main event.
· He led 62 laps (of 200) at the half-mile Tennessee track to capture his first win of 2016 locking him into this year’s Chase and capturing the $100,000 ‘Dash4Cash’ bonus.
· Jones took advantage of a late-race restart to get past Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch to earned his third NXS career win and first at Bristol.
· Busch (second) also finished in the top-five at Bristol after leading 43 laps of the event.
· Daniel Suarez continues to lead the series point standings since capturing it in Las Vegas and win the victory, Jones moves to second in the point standings trailing Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Suarez by six points.

ERIK JONES, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How were you able to get to the lead in the closing laps after the restart?
“I don’t know, we had a really good restart there. The 18 (Kyle Busch) hadn’t been getting going. I lost my voice because I’ve been screaming so much on the cooldown lap. We got a really good restart and Kyle just left the top open and we went up there and he worked pretty hard to keep us behind him. We just kept digging and it worked out. Just an awesome feeling. I never thought we’d get our first win here at Bristol this year. Couldn’t be happier to get this GameStop Camry to victory lane and cool to do it with After Glow and everybody. Thank you to Chris Gabehart (crew chief) and this whole team, it’s a really young team, but we’re getting better every week and it’s cool to see it pay off here in victory lane.”

What does it mean to beat Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson here at Bristol?
“I figured at some point in the year we could get a win when those guys weren’t in the field, but it would be a tall task with them in the field. Here at Bristol for those two guys, this is one of their best tracks. I’m just so excited and you can tell, I’m out of breath. I wasn’t working that hard. Just so excited about the win and to be here in victory lane and beat those guys. This is a really big day for us.”

How does it feel to win at Bristol Motor Speedway?
“That’s pretty exciting. I’m on a list here with a lot of great guys and just proud to be a part of it and proud to be a part of this team. Couldn’t be happier to be here in victory lane. It’s a solid all around effort by these guys – from Chris Gabehart (crew chief) to the whole crew in getting this thing here. Chris said on the radio that we’re a young team, but we’re growing every week and it shows every time we hit the race track. That’s perseverance right there, that’s not giving up. I didn’t think we had a shot with 20 (laps) to go, but the caution came out, lined us back up and we just made it happen. It’s an exciting day for us and it’s cool to get GameStop back to victory lane again and really pumped up about the rest of the year.”

Did you have a strategy on the final restart?
“I knew the 18 (Kyle Busch) hadn’t been getting good restarts on the bottom. He hadn’t earlier in the day and he didn’t get a good one and we got a really good restart and we were right with the 42 (Kyle Larson). I cleared the 18 before (turn) one and tried to get to the bottom and couldn’t get him. The 42 just really left the top open where I’d been running before the yellow came out. I figured that was our only chance, we could go up there and see if it holds and I went up there and it stuck. We got the lead and he tried hard to keep me behind him, but it wasn’t enough and just pretty exciting feeling coming through three and four knowing that we were coming to the checkers and looking in the mirror and seeing the 18 and 42 back there.”

What does it mean to also capture the $100,000 ‘Dash4Cash’ bonus?
“That was the last thing I think I was thinking about crossing the line, but a nice little added bonus for us here today. Couldn’t be prouder of these guys. We worked hard, we didn’t unload good yesterday, but we got our Camry where it needed to be and it showed all day today.”

How does it feel to have won your heat race and the main event in the first race with this format?
“Pretty cool to be the first guy to win the heat races – getting a win there in the heat race and then getting the win here in the main. I guess if you would have asked me with 20 (laps) to go where we would have finished, I would have said third or fourth, but that last restart all the holes opened up that we needed to and we were able to take advantage of them and make something out of it. Just a pretty cool day and one of the coolest finishes that I’ve ever been a part of and come out on the good end of – that always makes them a little cooler for someone. Just a cool day for us overall. If you asked me at the beginning of the year if Bristol was going to be the place where we would get our first win I would say, ‘No, probably not.’ It’s a place that I like it okay, but the race is tough and it’s hard to pass. Pretty cool to get a win here. Everybody wants to win at Bristol and it’s really tough to do and it’s just getting yourself in the right position and it’s nice to be able to do it.”

What are you going to do with the $100,000 bonus?
“Well, we’re all going to dinner so that’s going to be a big bill already I can tell. After that, I don’t know, I’ll probably put it away. I don’t like to buy too many things.”

Who were you on the phone with in victory lane that caused you to be so emotional?
“Not to bring the mood down, but I was actually talking to my parents. My Dad, I figure we need to announce it at some time, but he got diagnosed with cancer about a month ago. He’s going through treatment now and he’s missed the last few weeks. Just on the phone with him and my Mom. Just pretty emotional. It was the first race I’ve won that they haven’t been here for and hard to hold the emotions back for that one.”

Did the 50-lap heat race help you for the main event?
“I think so. We made adjustments so I think we definitely learned something. Learned a little bit about the track widening out and where we were going to be running in the feature or the main. I really started to see just how high we were going to be and I knew if we were that high just in the heat race that once we got to the main we were going to be all the way up against the wall and we were there for the last half of the race. We were able to make some adjustments. We were free off and got a little better there. I liked it, it was something different, something unique and gave us a chance to work on our stuff before the race so I thought that was pretty helpful.”

Were you worried about being able to get back out front once Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch got to the lead?
“I’d say I was pretty impatient once we got behind. I was frustrated for sure that we lost the lead and we weren’t able to keep up with them like I’d hoped we would. On that restart, I didn’t necessarily see Kyle-squared, I saw two cars we needed to pass to get to victory lane. We took the restart and it worked out perfect. Like I said, it couldn’t have been any better. The 18 (Kyle Busch) got a little bit of a slow restart and we were able to get to the bottom, get singled out and then Kyle Larson didn’t run where I thought he would all the way against the wall and we just went up there and got it to stick and got to the outside of them. I knew from there that we were in a really good spot.”

Did Kyle Busch come to victory lane to congratulate you?
“No, he (Kyle Busch) didn’t, but I’m sure I’ll get a text later tonight. He always congratulates me in some way. It definitely was fun to be able to beat those guys. It’s a big day. I wish we could have ran with them all day, but at the end of the day there’s one lap that matters and we were leading it so it was definitely a cool day to get a win and be the first XFINITY regular to do it, that’s a pretty special moment.”

What did you think of the length of the main event?
“I honestly think that was a great length for a race here really. Any longer and it kind of would have been drug out. At 200 laps you have to run pretty hard for the majority of the whole race and it was interesting. We all thought it would be a one-stop race, but tires actually wore out so much that we did have to pit again. I thought it was great, I thought 200 laps was a good distance for us and like I said, we had to run pretty hard the whole time.”

Will anything chance in how you run the rest of the season now that you’re locked into the Chase?
“I think in a way it makes us more relaxed after this. Not that we were worried about making the Chase, but definitely nice to just have that feeling of comfort for sure. I don’t think we’ll change much. We’re still going to race for wins every week and I still feel like we’re pretty aggressive in weeks prior as far as going for the win. I don’t think it’s going to change a whole lot, but it’s nice to have that feeling waking up every morning knowing that we’re locked in for the end of the season.”

CHRIS GABEHART, Crew Chief, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What did you tell Erik before the final restart?
“It really started with two restarts before when we were third. The bottom obviously has a little bit of a disadvantage and we fell back to fifth. It was really important for us to get the spot back from the 3 (Austin Dillon) car in order to put us in a good position if a caution was to come out. When it did, we were restarting fourth and I was just really on him to keep his (Erik Jones) tires clean and keep the car ready to go and not to get out-worked. These drivers in those cars, there really are no time-outs in this sport. Every second of every lap you need to be doing something to gain an advantage on their competition and clearly today Erik did that.”

What did you think of the length of the main event?
“I think in 200 laps you know you’re not going to get many chances to try to make the car better and shuffle the field so you have to make the most of every lap and every position matters. We just really took advantage of that and got off a little bit in the middle of the race and we were racing Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch, two of the best in the sport and Kyle Busch certainly the hottest guy in the sport right now. To keep pace with them the whole race, we weren’t quite there, but we’re going to keep working at that. We’re a young team that’s going to get better and I think we can run with them, certainly proved that today. But when it counted there at the end, there was nobody I wanted in my race car more than him and he made it happen.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
The final restart certainly hampered the finish for you, what happened?
“The restarts for us were horrible today. I’d go to the gas both times and the car just shut off and wouldn’t go. It just stumbled – just too much throttle too soon, I don’t know. It’s frustrating when you’re in position to have a chance and you just throw it away. Obviously (Erik) Jones was in a good position there and great job to those guys. He deserves the win, but the class of the field, the two cars that were the class of the field didn’t win today. Oh well.”

How did the car react on the final restart?
“When I go to the gas it just stumbles and falls on its face, it doesn’t accelerate – it basically shuts off and lose all acceleration. Those guys were gone and I didn’t have a chance. (Erik) Jones cleared me after turn one, that’s how bad it was. I hate it for all these guys, they don’t deserve that. It is what it is and that’s what I had to deal with. Both restarts were the same way today and both cars that were the class of the field didn’t win the race. It is what it is.”

How strong was your race car?
“Our car was one of the best if not the best out there on that one long when (Kyle) Larson got by me, that was the race. I don’t know why, but I was just getting too tight. Then on pit road I was hoping my guys could get it back for me, but we didn’t and just track position. Had to run second the whole rest of the race, can’t pass here. It used to be a race track that you could race around three-wide and pass and work traffic really well and have some fun, not it’s just frustrating and aggravating.”

Was the final restart worse for you than the first in the race?
“Both restarts I had today were absolutely horrendous – both times I would go to the throttle and the engine would shut off and those guys were gone by then. I couldn’t keep a nose on their left-rear fender or anything. More laps obviously would have been better, more beneficial, but being on that inside lane is already a disadvantage so having a car that can’t restart then you’re at even more of a disadvantage.”

Do you expect the top groove to be the primary groove again in tomorrow’s race?
“It will be the top lane tomorrow. Everybody has been using the bottom, but nobody really moved up during practice to really move up that top line, but it kind of finally happened with about seven minutes left in final practice and we all started running the top. The race will be around the top and it will be the same frustrating single-file show tomorrow.”

How special do you think this victory is for Erik Jones?
“It’s a great day for Erik Jones, really happy for him. He was the fourth-place runner and got a lucky break on the last restart to win the race. Sometimes you’re breaks go that way and sometimes you’re races go that way. He certainly stole one today. He didn’t out race the two Kyle’s up front, but he did in the final laps that counted.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 19 Juniper Networks Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 6th

DAVID STARR, No. 44 Zachry Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports
Finishing Position: 17th

MATT TIFFT, No. 24 Arch Day Toyota Camry, JGL Racing
Finishing Position: 23rd

DAKODA ARMSTRONG, No. 28 Winfield Toyota Camry, JGL Racing
Finishing Position: 30th

JJ YELEY, No. 14 Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports
Finishing Position: 38th

MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 10 Toyota Camry, MBM Motorsports
Finishing Position: 40th

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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