Erik Jones misses out on first Cup win at home track

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On the biggest restart of his Cup Series career so far, Erik Jones had a choice to make.

He chose … poorly.

The rookie driver for Furniture Row Racing was in second place on the overtime restart of the Pure Michigan 400. To his right was teammate Martin Truex Jr. In the row behind him and representing the choices he had were Matt Kenseth and Kyle Larson.

Both Jones and Truex spun their tires, which allowed Larson and Kenseth to pounce.

“The 20 (Kenseth) got to the bottom of me and the 42 (Larson) was to the right of me,” Jones said. “I saw them both getting runs and kind of had to pick one or the other and picked wrong.”

Larson charged by Truex, bouncing off the No. 78 in the process as Jones failed to keep Kenseth behind him. The two made contact, which would result in Kenseth cutting a tire and finishing 24th. But for a brief moment all four cars were four-wide.

“I was pointed at the infield for half of (Turns ) 1 and 2,” Jones said. “For me it was an easy choice. It really doesn’t matter if we crashed. The only thing that was going to benefit us was a win, so we were in the middle and I just kept going and hoped that I would get enough air to keep moving along. So I think everybody was kind of on the same page, and it just worked out.”

By the time the field reached Turn 2, Jones was still in one piece but in fifth.

But in Turn 3, Trevor Bayne got loose driving through oil dry and washed up the track. This slowed Ryan Newman, which allowed Jones to get by both of them coming to the white flag.

“Just didn’t work out,” Jones said. “Wish it would have worked out a little bit better. It was looking like a Furniture Row one‑two (finish), kind of either way it was going to play out, so just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.”

Jones led five laps over the course of the race. It was his fifth race to lead laps this season.

The finish ties Jones’ best so far in 26 Cup starts. He placed third at Pocono in June. It was his third top 10 in as many weeks.

A red flag prior to the overtime finish gave the 2015 Camping World Truck Series champion more than enough time to think about the significance of winning his first Cup race at his home track.

“It gives you a lot of time to at least play through different scenarios on the restart and how you want it to work out,” Jones said. “It’s very rare it actually works out the way you picture in your head, but yeah, you definitely ponder what that would be like. … I knew we had a shot right on the restart. We were just as quick I felt like right off the bat, and it would have been nice to be able to seal the deal for sure.”

With three races left in the regular season, Jones is 16th in the points standings. The Cup Series now heads to Bristol Motor Speedway, where Jones finished 17th in April.

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Martin Truex Jr. wins Stage 1 of New Hampshire playoff race

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Martin Truex Jr. won the first stage of the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for his 19th stage win of the season.

Pole-sitter Kyle Busch led the race until Truex passed him coming to the start-finish line to start Lap 41. Truex led the final 36 laps of the 75-lap stage.

The top 10 after 75 laps is Truex, Kyle Larson, Busch, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.

Jones was the only non-playoff driver in the top 10.

There were no cautions in the stage.

Joey Logano, who started last after multiple inspection failures kept him from qualifying, finished the stage in 13th.

Playoff driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with the wall during the first 10 laps and finished the stage in 22nd.

Stage 2 will end on Lap 150 of the 300-lap race.

 

Don’t stand for anthem? Richard Childress says get on the bus afterward

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LOUDON, New Hampshire — While many NFL players kneeled during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games Sunday, NASCAR crews stood along pit road for the national anthem.

More attention has been paid to the issue since President Donald Trump said in a speech Friday that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner.’’

Several NFL players have not stood for the anthem before games to protest the treatment of blacks by police. Former quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the trend last year when he played with the San Francisco 49ers.

Car owner Richard Childress was asked before Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway what the policy was for his team if someone kneeled for the anthem.

“Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over,’’ Childress said on pit road. “Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.’’

Richard Petty told USA Today: “Anybody that don’t stand up for (the anthem) ought to be out of the country. Period. If they don’t appreciate where they’re at … what got them where they’re at? The United States.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs said he didn’t talk about the issue with his team before the race.

“You’ve got an athletic event and that’s what we’re going to have,’’ Gibbs said.

Car owner Chip Ganassi said: “I like Mike Tomlin’s answer.’’

Tomlin is the coach of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. All but one of his team’s players stayed off the field for the anthem before its game Sunday.

Tomlin told CBS Sports before the game: “We’re not going to play politics. We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, to remove ourselves from the circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something he shouldn’t be separated from his teammates who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today. That’s our decision.”

Last year, Austin Dillon talked about how the sport displays patriotism.

“I don’t know how it would go over with the fans – we’re a very patriotic sport,” Dillon said if someone in NASCAR would kneel during the anthem. “I think our sport does a good job of showing that every Saturday, Sunday of showing patriotism and what the flag means. Not only that, we have a lot of military out here each and every weekend.

“I’ve got SEAL guys that will personally text me and say, ‘Hey, thank you for not moving around (during the anthem). … It means a lot to them just to stand at attention.”

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Joey Logano looks to rebound from rough weekend, Chase Elliott eyes win (videos)

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It’s been a rough weekend already for Joey Logano.

He failed pre-qualifying inspection four times and was not allowed to make a qualifying attempt, as a result.

Then, NASCAR kept Logano from participating in the final practice Saturday, also being penalized because of failing qualifying inspection.

We caught up with Logano before Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Check out his thoughts for today’s race in the video above, as well as Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett’s thoughts.

Also, check out Chase Elliott, who finished second at Chicgaoland, and his thoughts about today’s race as he once again chases his first potential win for 2017 in the video below.

Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman at New Hampshire: It’s all about getting a win (video)

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Matt Kenseth remains winless thus far in 2017.

A few hours later today, Kenseth hopes to break that winless streak with a visit to victory lane at the conclusion of the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Kenseth was interviewed before the race by NBCSN and admits that while earning points is important, winning is much more important today.

Will he be able to do it?

Check what Kenseth had to say in the video above.

And then there’s Ryan Newman, who had a disappointing 23rd place finish at Chicagoland and looks to get back on track today.

Check out what Newman had to say in a pre-race interview on NBCSN below.