NASCAR Driver Erik Jones Signs with New Team

During a press conference at Kentucky Speedway last week, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth remarked that he didn’t believe he would be behind the wheel of the number 20 car next season. On July 11 Joe Gibbs Racing confirmed Kenseth’s belief by hiring Monster Energy Cup Series rookie Erik Jones to take over the driving duties in the number 20 car.

MattKenseth&KevinHarvickBy Kim Phillips – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2717892

Jones currently drives the newest addition to Furniture Row Racing – the number 77 car. Jones is the team mate of Monster Energy Cup Series points leader Martin Treux Jr.

Erik_Jones_Pole_Die_Slinger_2016(1)By Royalbroil – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50278939

Joe Gibbs Racing owner Coach Joe Gibbs remarked on the change via a racing team statement saying, “Matt has been a tremendous asset to our organization over the past five seasons both on and off the track. He’s been a great teammate and a great ambassador for our sponsors. We have a great deal of respect for him and we are working hard to get the 20 team into the playoffs to make a run for the championship. We have a great deal of confidence in his abilities to do just that.

At the same time it’s exciting to have Erik back to run full time with us starting next season. When a number of circumstances made it clear over the past few weeks that a second year for the 77 car was probably not viable at this time for Erik, we all agreed that we wanted to keep him in the Toyota racing family and felt it was the right time to make this transition. He is an exciting driver that has already proven to have the ability to compete at the highest level of our sport. He is also shown to be a great representative to our partners and we believe he is at the beginning of a long and successful career.”

The announcement of Erik Jones’ changing to Joe Gibbs Racing begins what is referred to as the silly season. Earlier this season veteran driver Dale Earnhardt Jr announced his intentions to retire from full time racing at the end of the season. Dale Jr’s car owner Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motor Sports has yet to announce a replacement for Earnhardt. In the week’s after Earnhardt’s announcement, broadcasters speculated as to whether Erik Jones could be one of the drivers to take over driving duties of the number 88 car.

In his rookie season with Furniture Row Racing, Jones has five top 10 finishes. As a driver in the Xfinity Series, Jones took the checkered flag eight times and has seven victories in the Camping World Truck Series. In 2015 the CWTS crowned Jones as the series champion.

Speaking on his future as a Monster Energy Cup Series driver Jones said, “this is a really exciting time in my career for me to make the move back to Joe Gibbs Racing full time in the Cup Series and continue to have the success I’ve had with them over the last few years. I will always be grateful for the opportunity given to me by Barney Visser and everyone at Furniture Row Racing this year for my first full year in the Cup Series. I’ve learned a lot this year and I’ve had a great group of guys around me each week to lean on as I figured out my rookie season and how to make my way in the Cup Series.”


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