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NASCAR Cup: Erik Jones survives Daytona demolition derby for first win

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JULY 07: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 buyatoyota.com Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Erik Jones led only one lap of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Saturday night, a race that was scheduled for 160 laps but extended to 168 by two overtime restart attempts. But that one lap was enough to garner the Joe Gibbs Racing second-year driver his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win.

“Oh, boy, how about that race, boys and girls? That was something else,” Jones said. “I thought that we were out of it, and we were right back in it. Took the lead and ran away. Wow, what an awesome race. To have buyatoyota.com on here and my first win at Daytona, my first superspeedway win. What an awesome day. I am out of breath. Too much smoke in the car from that burnout. I can barely breathe. What an awesome finish.”

Toyota finished one-two, with reigning Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. taking runner-up honors, despite suffering crash damage earlier in the race.

“Man, they destroyed some cars tonight,” Truex said. That was insane. Cool to get to the end. I wish I could have done a better job for my team. I had a really fast car. I have to get better at the blocking. It never has been my strong suite. Without a question, I struggled a bit seeing the runs coming. Me and my team are trying to figure that out together. It was a good run, and we came up a little short. Congrats to Erik. His first win. I can’t imagine what it feels like. I remember mine vividly. Congrats to him and his team. It’s pretty cool to see. I wish it was us. But if you’re going to lose to someone, a first-time winner and Erik is a good one to lose to, especially in your worst track and your worst race. Thanks to everyone at Toyota and 5-hour Energy, Bass Pro Shops and everyone who makes this possible. Wish I could have got it tonight.”

Both JTG-Daugherty Racing entries were in the top-five at the checkered flag, with A.J. Allmendinger finishing third and his teammate, Chris Buescher, in fifth. The other top-five finisher was Kasey Kahne in fourth.

In the race that saw 10 cautions and multiple large crashes, more than half of the 40-car race field was involved in at least one multi-car crash. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who led a race-high 51 laps and won both 40-lap stages was blamed for multiple crashes.

The first stage ran caution-free and had only two race leaders, Chase Elliott and Stenhouse, with Stenhouse leading the final 29 laps of the stage. His win of the first stage was his first-career stage win and the first, ever, for Roush Fenway Racing. Early in the second stage, though, the race became somewhat of a wreck-fest.

Kyle Busch and William Byron blamed Stenhouse for the first-two multi-car crashes, the second of which retired Busch and Byron from the race while Stenhouse continued to run up front. Brad Keselowski, though, blamed the first crash large crash, which involved at least 18 cars to some extent, on Byron for a “bad block.”

Stenhouse retired from the race as a result of a crash with Kyle Larson on lap 123.

“I was really bummed,” Stenhouse said. ”The first one (crash), the 24 (Byron) blocked the 2 (Keselowski), and from where I was sitting, I thought we were gonna get to the inside of him, so I wasn’t really expecting him to check up that quick. The second one with the 18 (Busch), I was just too aggressive trying to get to his left-rear, trying to get back to the lead and back out front where our Fifth Third Ford was really dominant. We definitely brought, I feel like, the best car here in the field. Winning two stages was nice, but obviously, we wanted to win at the end, and it’s a bummer we basically crashed all of our teammates out of it. It was kind of tough after that and it all came back to get me with the damage from the 42 (Larson), which was probably a wreck I caused, cut a tire down in front of us. A bummer of a night. Congrats to Erik on his first win. That’s pretty cool, but I felt like there for most of the race we had the best shot at it.”

Finishing sixth through 10th were Ty Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon and pole sitter Alex Bowman.

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Posted by on July 8, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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