(WOMR file photo)
In a short weekend at Kansas Speedway, Erik Jones has turned a lot of heads in his new job. Not to mention the fact that this is a job that could prove to be one-and-done.
Jones, the develpemental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, will make his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start Saturday night behind the wheel of the JGR No. 18 Toyota. And it could well be his only start in that ride, as JGR team driver Kyle Busch could be back in his car as soon as next Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Series race??
So far this weekend, Jones has dazzled in the both the Cup and the Camping World Truck Series. In his first Cup start, he qualified 12th for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, was ninth in the first practice and first in Happy Hour. Not bad for an 18-year-old young man who hails from the sleepy little hamlet of Byron, Mich., population 581.
On the Truck Series side of the ledger, he captured the pole for the Toyota Tundra 250 and led 151 of the first 161 laps before running out of gas at the end.
Already in his still very young career, Jones has posted big numbers! Those include four victories and nine top-five finishes in 21 Truck Series starts. Add to those figures, one victory and five top fives in 12 NASCAR XFINITY Series events. Those stats are mind bloggling!
And regardless of what happens in tonight’s Cup race, Jones already has turned a lot of heads in Kansas this weekend.
Don’t get too worried that Jones will be unemployed when Kyle Busch returns from his devasting foot injuries. The Toyota camp has already stated that they are sticking with this young kid, and are going to keep him wihthin the Toyota family!
In an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com, Toyota’s racing boss in the United States said the automaker has big plans for Jones.
“He’s not going anywhere,” said David Wilson, the president and general manager of TRD, U.S.A., Toyota’s American racing division. “We’re going to keep Toyotas underneath him, somehow, some way.”
Wilson said Jones’ run for the Truck Series championship, where he’s third in points after Friday night’s race, is what Toyota is focusing on this year.
“In the immediate future, his biggest priority is to win his first national series championship,” Wilson told FOXSports.com. “The part that is important to us about that is, OK, whether Erik belongs in a Cup car today full-time or today an XFINITY car full-time, that’s secondary. He hasn’t gone through a complete season and raced for a championship. There’s a certain discipline and mentality that that takes, right? Whereas you jump in a car one weekend and another car the next weekend and it’s all about winning. But his day job right now is to win a Camping World Truck Series championship.”
And from there, the sky is the limit!
“We have next year lined out for him,” said Wilson. “We’re working on the year after that.”
Wilson acknowledged that Jones has a ton of potential.
“He’s a special talent. He’s a special young man,” said Wilson of Jones. “What strikes me with Erik is his humility, and the fact that he is just so steady. He doesn’t have the high highs or the low lows. He’s just very steady and quietly confident. I believe he will be — he already is a star — but he’s got a bright future.”
As I have mentioned in several articles, this young talent is very worthy of your undivided attention!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!