Furniture Row Racing’s Erik Jones Named The 2017 Sunoco Rookie Of The Yearby Benjamin Sanders November 19, 2017
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – After a testing first year in NASCAR’s top series, Erik Jones claimed the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, fending off challengers Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon. Jones had a season that was marked by glimpses of brilliance and a litany of crashes.
Jones’ closest taste of victory came at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. He was the class of the field during the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, leading 260 laps, but he ultimately finished second to mentor Kyle Busch. Jones amassed 14 top-10’s and one pole in 2017.
“Well, I think it’s something to be proud of for all of us,” Jones said. “You look back on the season, and starting out a new group over at Furniture Row Racing, a second team there was a big step for us, and a lot of guys that obviously some hadn’t been in the Cup Series, some had. But a rookie crew chief, a rookie driver and we were able to have a strong season, compete for some wins along the way and end up with Rookie of the Year. So definitely one to be proud of. That was one of our big goals was to get the Rookie of the Year, and it’s nice to close it out with that.”
Teammate Martin Truex Jr. said he hasn’t been much a mentor to Jones with his championship battle, but Jones ultimately didn’t need it.
“He’s a quiet kid,” Truex Jr. said. “I was there if he needed it, but he usually figured it out on his own.”
Ty Dillon missed out on Rookie of the Year, but he is proud of his season and development as a NASCAR driver. Dillon, much like Jones, had moments or brilliance and moments of misfortune. Dillon was running in the top-five at Dover in the fall and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, but he ultimately didn’t get the finish.
“What a rookie year it’s been,” Dillon said. “I’ve learned so much about myself as a driver. Today wasn’t the ending to the year that we wanted. We had them there at the end and could’ve gotten ourselves a top-15 finish, but I just barley scrubbed the wall and cut the right-rear tire at the very end. I wish we could have shown everyone what we’re capable of one last time this season in the GEICO Chevrolet, but it was still a good run that we had going. I appreciate the hard work of this team all season long. We’ve had a lot of bright spots and some not so bright ones, but that’s our season and it’s one that we will build on for next year. We’re going to grind through the off season and be ready in Daytona.”
Next season, highly touted NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, William Byron should be a favorite for the award.
Photo Credit: Tyler Goodson/TheFourthTurn.com