Erik Jones is fighting for another contract extension to remain with Joe Gibbs Racing. See, Jones, 24, has always been a Toyota driver. He’s made his way up through the ranks with Toyota power running with Venturini with ARCA, Kyle Busch Motorsports in Trucks and JGR now in Xfinity and Cup competition.
So, with operating on a one-year deal for 2020, Jones knows his time with Toyota/JGR could be coming to an end soon if he doesn’t pick things up.
Christopher Bell and Harrison Burton are two Toyota/JGR developmental drivers and showing their strength right now. Bell, is with a Toyota/JGR satellite team at Leavine Family Racing on the Cup level for this season while Burton has won twice with JGR on the NXS level already too.
With a cap on how many Cup teams an organization can have, JGR has no room right now at the inn. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. are all under contract for 2021. Plus, why would JGR cut ties with either of the three. Hamlin, has a series leading three wins already this season and looking yet again like another Championship 4 contender. Truex, won in Martinsville and has arguably the most speed out of the JGR camp. Busch, won last year’s championship and has three runner-up finishes already this season.
Meanwhile, Jones has yet to win still and is sitting 18th in Cup points, eight markers out of one of the wildcard spots.
With JGR, making the playoffs should be a guarantee. So, to be halfway through the regular season and to have one of the drivers not in right now, and that driver also being the one without a contract for next season, well it’s eye opening on what the future might hold.
Jones, was in this position last year and went on to win the Southern 500 and earn a one-year extension. He wasn’t worried about 2020 because he was living it in 2019. He knows his own potential.
But, when his three teammates all make the Championship 4 last year while he was bounced in the first round and them combine to win 18 times and Jones once, you get some animosity there.
Luckily for Jones, he has a prime opportunity to make a statement this weekend. It’s time for the doubleheader at the Pocono Raceway and a good spot for him to find victory lane for the third time of his career.
Jones, has made six Cup Series starts on the Tricky Triangle and in those races, he has five top 10 finishes, four of those being inside of the top five. In fact, he was third and second respectively in the two races last year.
Plus, Toyota has won five straight Cup races at Pocono and six of the last nine.
Jones, has two opportunities to get his No. 20 Toyota into victory lane this weekend and place his name into the automatically qualified list for the postseason. He has two top five finishes all year, both being fifth place runs. He needs this.