Erik Jones claimed his first career win on the NASCAR Cup Series, winning the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway after a race that was marred by major crashes that took out much of the field.

NASCAR Erik Jones
Erik Jones celebrates after claiming his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory on Saturday, winning at Daytona and clinching a playoff position in the process. (Image: Getty)

Jones, who made his debut during the 2015 season, earned the victory and a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Wrecks Eliminate Half the Field

Only half of the 40 cars that started the race finished on Saturday night. The first wreck took place on Lap 54 of the scheduled 160, when rookie driver William Byron, the leader at the time, tried to block Brad Keselowski from passing.

Keselowski lifted up the track, where he then got hit from behind by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. That resulted in a 12-car crash that eliminated seven drivers from the race, including Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliot, and Joey Logano.

Youve got a list of drivers that are making moves that they are unqualified to make and it causes big wrecks, Keselowski told NBC after getting released from the infield car center. That was one of those. It was my fault because I lifted. I should have wrecked him and sent a message to the whole field.

The second crash came in in overtime session after a late restart. A nine-car collision stopped the first attempt to end the race, eliminating prominent drivers like Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer.

Jones Overtakes Truex on Final Lap

Finally, Martin Truex Jr. took the lead during the final restart on Lap 167. But he couldnt hold on, as Jones took advantage of a more organized outside lane, getting a strong run and passing Truex to take the lead and capture his first ever win on the circuit.

How about that race boys and girls? Jones said after the race. I thought we were out of it and all of a sudden were right back in it. My first Cup win. My first win at Daytona. My first superspeedway win. What an awesome day.

Truex has never had much success at Daytona, as this was only his second career top-five finish on the superspeedway.

Ive got to get better at my mirror-driving, Truex told reporters after the race. Ive never really been good at that, and unfortunately, thats part of this racing here.

AJ Allmendinger took third place, with Kasey Kahne and Chris Buescher rounding out the top five.

Other than Truex, the leaders in the season-long standings were mostly eliminated by the crashes throughout the race. Harvick finished in 19th, while NASCAR Cup Series leader Kyle Busch finished in 33rd place.

As a result, the driver standings didnt chance much in the race, though Jones win will have playoff implications: Jones will certainly grab one of the 16 playoff spots now, meaning one less driver will get in on series points.

At the moment, seven drivers have clinched a playoff position by winning at least one race this season, while nine more would get in based on their position in the driver standings. Alex Bowman is currently in the bubble position, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sitting 19 points behind him for the final spot in the postseason field. There are eight races remaining in the regular season, which concludes on Sep. 9.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *