Erik Jones calls out Kasey Kahne after wreck sends him home early in Richmond

Rookie cuts a left front tire after contact with Hendrick driver, sending him straight into the wall and garage

Peter Casey—USA Today Sports
NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones (77) before the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

RICHMOND — Erik Jones is not happy with Kasey Kahne.The rookie driver for Furniture Row Racing had a strong car on Sunday afternoon despite starting the race in the 19th position. He tried to quickly fight his way up, but made contact with Kahne, as a group of drivers including the No. 77 and No. 5 cars attempted to go three-wide.Three laps later, Jones’ left front tire went down, sending him directly into the wall coming out of a turn. Jones immediately headed to the infield care center while his car headed to the garage on a wrecker, ending his afternoon after four laps.Jones placed the blame on Kahne after checking out of the infield care center.”Well, we got three-wide right on the start and then the 5 [Kahne] ran us up into the fence,” Jones explained. “I was trying not to wreck everybody and we got run into the wall by the 5 and then a couple laps later we cut a left front, so it’s really unfortunate. We only made five laps, 10 laps of the race and we’re already out, so it’s just really a heartbreaking day. “It’s not what we wanted, but we’ll just have to come back next week, bring another fast race car and try to run up front again.”The leader in Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings coming into the race, Jones has also totaled 32 stage points and was 12th overall in the standings. Following the early wreck, he now sits at 16th in the standings, just inside the cutoff for the playoffs.Jones tried to come to grips with what took place on Lap 1 of a 400-lap race, citing a lack of patience for his abrupt exit.”I was on top and just got ran into the fence right on lap one and that’s unfortunate,” Jones said. “I mean, it’s 400 laps — I just wish there was a little bit more patience at times. It’s frustrating — I was just trying to get this race going and work. We’re racing hard, so it’s a bummer, you know? We cut a left front, couple of laps later out in the wall and our day is over. Those guys get to keep racing, so that sucks, but we just have to move on.”To his credit, Kahne did issue an apology on Twitter following the race.Feel bad I got into @erik_jones on lap one and bent his fender on to his tire which eventually rubbed a hole in it. Hate I ruined 77's day— Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) April 30, 2017
Following the early wreck, Jones finished last in the 38-car field, his first result outside the top 15 since wrecking in the Daytona 500. He will look to turn his fortunes at superspeedways when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega next weekend.