Confusion led to frustration as Erik Jones lost a chance to win Friday’s ALSCO 300 at Kentucky Speedway after failing to maintain speed under the race’s penultimate caution.
Running in second going into the a lap 175 restart, Jones made the most of the high lane and became the only driver to pass Kyle Busch on-track for the lead, clearing Busch coming off of turn 4 just as the caution flag waved once more for a crashing Ray Black Jr.
Running behind the pace car, Jones’ car appeared to slow briefly on the track, with both Busch and Austin Dillon passing the race leader on the high side.
According to a tweet from Jones’ PR, the XFINITY Series rookie “hit the ignition while reaching for the radiator fan”.
Nascar says we didn't maintain so we have to restart p3. Erik said he hit the ignition when reaching for the radiator fan
— Erik Jones (@Erik_Jones) July 9, 2016
Jones was moved back to third by NASCAR after the incident, and fell further in the field after being taken four-wide by Ryan Blaney on the ensuing restart.
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) July 9, 2016
Jones would rally in the closing laps to finish 4th.
After the race, the Michigan native attempted to explain what occurred under the yellow.
“I was trying to get ready for the restart as best as I could, and apparently I was too far behind the pace car,” Jones said. “I don’t know what the rule definition was there, or how far back you can be, but apparently that was too slow, and it put us back to third.”
While Jones understood the cause of the penalty, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver indicated that he wasn’t the only one to do it in recent weeks.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Jones. “People take advantage of that rule all the time. I see it. I was just the unfortunate one to be the victim. We’ll have to look back on it and figure out what we’ve got to do different. Unfortunately the Reser’s Toyota Camry didn’t get the finish it deserved tonight.”
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