Erik Jones completes three-race weekend with 12th in Sprint Cup race

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Standing on pit road following the second official Sprint Cup race of his career, Erik Jones didn’t look like someone who had completed a three-race, 1,021-mile weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

But the 19 year old was starting to feel it.

“I’m ready to take the day off,” Jones said after finishing 12th in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. “I don’t think I’ve ever run more than two races – a Truck and Xfinity race – in more than one weekend. At this point, I’m feeling fine, but I can definitely feeling it coming on. I’ll be worn out tonight.”

Jones felt that way due to being JGR’s choice to once again fill in for an unavailable Sprint Cup driver.

First there was completing Denny Hamlin‘s race at Bristol Motor Speedway in April. Then Jones substituted for Kyle Busch at Kansas Speedway while Busch recovered from injuries. That effort ended with Jones spinning and finishing 25 laps down. In both cases, Jones was unable to complete every lap.

That changed Sunday. Jones completed all 334 laps. That was despite having a blown tire in the middle of the race, a common theme throughout the field.

“I wish we could have been a little stronger there at the end,” Jones said. “We had that right front go down and it tore the nose up pretty good, so kind of took us out of a shot at a top-10. To still come home 12th is a good day for us. We worked hard all day to really keep the thing balanced and good and strong.”

The weekend and Jones’ opportunity to build a bond with crew chief Jason Ratcliff was complicated when a wet track canceled two practice sessions Saturday. That meant Jones entered Sunday with only the one hour and 25 minute practice session from Friday.

“I think over the day we learned more and more about each other,” Jones said. “Over the day, (I was) just getting a feel for Jason’s communication and what I was trying to relay to him to get the response I wanted on adjustments and it definitely evolved throughout the day.”

Jones ran as high as sixth, but his average running spot was 12th.

Between his three Sprint Cup races, Jones has discovered what more he needs to do.

“If you have any mistake like we did with the right front, it really takes you out of any shot you have to run well,” Jones said. “Just staying in it and staying out front, that’s the biggest thing you need to do.”

Jones didn’t know he would be attempting a tripleheader until Thursday afternoon when Kenseth’s final appeal was denied.

Then began the marathon weekend of competing in the Camping World Truck Series, the Xfinity Series and the Sprint Cup race.

“When everything came up this week, I said ‘Man, you’re going to have a full plate,'” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “We couldn’t be prouder of him … I think he’s special.”

Jones won the Truck race – his third of the year – and finished fourth in the Xfinity race at the track he earned his first series win at in April.

But prior to the his third Sprint Cup race, Jones opted not to pester Kenseth or even his Truck owner Kyle Busch for advice.

“I haven’t talked to Matt, I kind of let him take his weekend off,” Jones said. “I’d like to talk to him a little bit more about this style of racing and working with Jason and everything else.”

But before that talk and before his next three-race weekend at Phoenix, Jones looks toward Monday.

“I’ll take a nice day off tomorrow.”

NASCAR America: Bubba Wallace on qualifying: ‘It’s our job to cheat the system’

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Much of the talk in NASCAR this week has been around the controversial final round of Cup qualifying at Auto Club Speedway, which saw no drivers make a qualifying run after they left pit road too late to make a lap.

Bubba Wallace didn’t advance to the final round, but he’s been in a similar situation. In 2014 at Michigan, Wallace was in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at ACS’ sister track. Qualifying for that event ended with only one truck, driven by Ryan Blaney, reaching the start-finish line in time to make a lap.

“It’s our job to cheat the system,” Wallace said on NASCAR America presents Motormouths. “In today’s world, with the package and how it works out, if you’re the front car, you’re the tow. You’re the tow truck. You’re towing everybody else behind you. You’re at a disadvantage. No one wants to be at a disadvantage.

“So we’re going to cheat the system until they do something about it. Then we’re going to find a new way to cheat the new system.”

Watch the above video to see Wallace discuss more about how he fared during the West Coast Swing.

Updated entry lists for Cup, Truck at Martinsville

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Here are the entry lists for this weekend’s races.

Cup – STP 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-six cars are entered for the sixth Cup race of the year. D.J. Kennington is listed in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports entry.

Jeb Burton is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 52 Ford.

Click here for the entry list.

Gander Outdoors Truck – Martinsville 250 (2 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered. Those also entered in the Cup race are Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain. Bubba Wallace is entered in AM Racing’s No. 22 truck.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR America Motormouths at 5 p.m. ET with Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America presents Motormouths airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Rutledge Wood hosts with Kyle Petty and they’ll be joined by special guest Bubba Wallace.

Fans will have the chance to call into the show to ask questions.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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