CONCORD, N.C. – Much like fellow young gun Colton Herta at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Erik Jones’ night came to an early end during Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Unlike Herta’s gearbox-related retirement, however, Jones’ exit from NASCAR’s longest race was considerably more spectacular.
Jones ran over a piece of debris and subsequently blew a right-front tire, pounding the outside wall and bringing out the first caution of the night with 22 laps complete.
The Byron, Mich., native climbed from his car, but was visibly frustrated and could not continue.
“We just blew a right-front. There was no real warning. It’s unfortunate,” said Jones. “We had a pretty good car. The Reser’s Camry was moving forward and driving really well. I was trying to get some track position and work my way to the front. It sucks. It’s a long race and we are obviously out of it early.
“A tire issue like that hasn’t happened to me in a long time, so it’s just unfortunate,” Jones added. “I don’t know if we ran something over. It’s a bummer, you don’t want to be out of the 600 this early and we had a car that could’ve contended today. We just have to go back to work and get them next time.”
Jones’ DNF at Charlotte was the first time this season that he’s failed to finish a race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He entered the weekend ranked 14th in the regular-season standings, 170 points back of leader Joey Logano and just 24 ahead of the cut line to advance into the playoffs.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver will celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday. His incident was followed by subsequent hits to the outside wall for Matt DiBenedetto on lap 48 and Martin Truex Jr. on lap 74.