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Erik Jones
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Statistically Speaking

Jones, Elliott and Others to the Rear

by Dan Beaver

Eight drivers failed post-qualification inspection and will have to drop to the back of the pack before the green flag waves over the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. Four of those cars were scheduled to start in the top 10. 

Erik Jones will have to give up his second-place position on the grid. Chase Elliott was scheduled to start seventh, Daniel Suarez ninth and Jimmie Johnson 10th.

Along with dropping to the back of the pack, these drivers will not be allowed to pick their pit stall in the order of their qualification. They will have to wait until all of the cars that passed inspection have chosen a stall. 

Along with the four drivers scheduled to start on the first five rows, Aric Almirola (was 15th), Denny Hamlin (18th), Matt Tifft (20th) and Joey Gase (36th) also failed qualification. 

With Jones falling to the back, last week's second-place finisher Kurt Busch will move up to join Kevin Harvick on the front row. Joey Logano and Kyle Busch will make up the second row, with Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon on row three. 

Elliott, Hamlin, and Tifft failed inspection a second time, which means that they each lose a crew member.

Richmond is a wide track on which passing is not particularly difficult, but this is going to change the handicap of a few drivers. The penalized drivers will line up beginning in 30th position and should be able to avoid getting lapped unless there is a very long green flag condition at the beginning of the race. 

Based on owners points, Hamlin will start 30th with Almirola 31st, Elliott 32nd, Suarez 33rd, Johnson 34th, Jones 35th, Tifft 36th and Gase falling back only one position to 37th.

Dropping to the back is going to impact Jones the most. He had one of the quickest 10-lap averages along with Harvick. Starting near the front gave him a great opportunity to establish a race pace early that would allow him to earn stage points. He will not be playing catch up and is not only likely to fail to crack the top 10 before the end of Stage 1, but also Stage 2.

Click here for the revised lineup

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.