This weekend Erik Jones will be competing in both the Camping World Truck Series in Newton Iowa on Friday night, as well as the XFINITY Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliett, IL.
The 1.5-mile oval attempt won’t come without its challenges, however. Not only will it be the rookie XFINITY Series driver’s second start at Chicagoland Speedway, but it will also come during a weekend when Jones runs NASCAR double duty – scheduled to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Iowa Speedway in Newton on Friday night before traveling directly to Illinois for the XFINITY Series race on Saturday night.
Jones recorded his first NASCAR XFINITY Series career start at Chicagoland Speedway in 2014 with Joe Gibbs Racing when he started in fourth place, led two laps and finished seventh in his inaugural series event. Jones earned a top-10 driver rating in that first attempt with four of the fastest race laps recorded in the Chicagoland event and 99% of his race laps in the top-15 positions.
During Chicagoland Speedway XFINITY Series practice on Friday afternoon, since Jones will be competing in the Camping World Truck Series event in Iowa, the No. 54 Monster Energy seat will see Joe Gibbs Racing XFINITY Series veteran Drew Herring behind the wheel. Herring will remain on site Saturday in case of any travel delays for Jones. Otherwise Jones will travel to Illinois in time for Saturday afternoon’s qualifying and subsequent night-race start. Herring over his XFINITY Series career has seen 15 starts, earned one pole, one top-five and five top-10 finishes. He has not competed on the 1.5-mile Joliet oval before.
When the now 19 year-old Jones is not running a full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, he competes in a part-time XFINITY Series schedule between the No. 20 and No. 54 cars at JGR. Jones has filled the No. 54 driver’s seat before for regular Monster Energy team driver Kyle Busch who sustained injuries in an accident during the February NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. While Busch has returned to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action and one XFINITY Series race, his remaining XFINITY Series schedule is yet to be confirmed.
It will be Jones’ 16th start with the JGR outfit since 2014, his 13th race this XFINITY season. Earlier this year the young Michigan native earned his first series win with the JGR No. 20 Toyota at Texas Motor Speedway where he started from the pole-qualifying position, led a race-high 79 laps and brought his Game Stop Toyota across the start/finish line in first place, his first series victory in ten starts. More recently Jones competed at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota where he started sixth, led a race-high 70 laps and finished ninth.
As I have written on numerous occasions over the past eighteen months, keep your eye on this Joe Gibbs Racing “young gun”. So far this year he has dominated almost every race that he has entered. Unfortunately, he and his team has encountered several roadblocks to victory, including just some pain bad luck! He could have easily notch four or five victories total between the Truck Series and the XFINITY Series this year!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!