Jones out at JGR, paving a path for Bell, what happened and where he could land in the future

Joe Gibbs Racing has almost something too good to be true. They have too many good drivers in their camp but no where to put them.

Kyle Busch won the 2015 and 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championships for the organization. While he’s winless this year, he’s won 27 of his 56 races just since 2015.

They have Martin Truex Jr. too. He’s a past champion (2017) and has 25 of his 27 career wins since 2016.

They also have Denny Hamlin. He’s won the last two Daytona 500’s and three of the last five. No one has won as many races (5) as him this year as he’s won 11 of the last 56 races.

They also currently have Erik Jones and Christopher Bell too. Both are free agents at seasons end. They had to house Jones with Furniture Row Racing as a rookie in 2017 before moving him over in 2018. Same with Bell this year. He’s at Leavine Family Racing spending his rookie season there.

Unfortunately both teams crumbled and will be gone completely by 2021. So, with a four car limit at JGR, who stays and who goes?

That decision has been made.

Jones is out at seasons end as JGR will likely now move Bell over. They are banking on current success over future. I get that.

Who among the first three would you let walk? Jones has two career wins in four seasons. That’s why he’s in the situation that he’s in.

Erik has been an incredible friend to Toyota throughout the last eight years,” said Ed Laukes, group vice president of marketing for Toyota. “We’ve become close not only to Erik but to his entire family. We’ve celebrated together, we’ve cried together, and we’ve supported each other through it all. Unfortunately, the time has come that we have to part ways from a competitive standpoint. We know Erik will continue to do great things in this sport and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. We will certainly continue to follow his career and will be there to congratulate him as he continues to succeed.”

Bell, is winless as a rookie. Do you keep both and cut ties with Busch, Truex or Hamlin in their primes?

They didn’t.

Jones, is 19th in the playoff standings and that’s only because he’s not drawing a good starting spot due to his point standing. He has fast cars but they’re behind early and having to push too hard to overcome it. When you push that hard, mistakes happen.

So, he’s gone and will be a steal for someone.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity that JGR provided me with over the last four years, and I wish the team nothing but success and good fortune,” said Jones. “JGR gave me a solid foundation from which to go out and compete at the highest level, and I look forward to building on that in the years to come.”

Jones, is only 24. He’s won at Daytona and Darlington. He had nine Xfinity Series wins in just 78 starts and seven wins in 42 Truck starts.

He’s young and given the right situation, can grow into something special. I mean, look no further than Joey Logano.

He spent his first four years at JGR and only amassed two wins, 16 top five finishes, 41 top 10s and led 337 laps. He was let go.

He joined Team Penske in 2013 and has been a steal. He’s scored 23 wins, 105 top fives, 168 top 10s and has led 6,246 laps in eight years there.

That’s what Jones can turn into for someone. The question is though, who?

Hendrick Motorsports would be a good landing spot. So would Chip Ganassi Racing or Stewart-Hass Racing. I could see him being on top of all three destinations.

“We certainly have some seats in play, so looking to see what the best options are,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “We’re here to win races in the right way. We want to be competitive on track. We want to have our innovation and tech transfer and we want the marketing out of it, so looking to see what we can do with any open seats for next year to fill them with the best driver.”

Maybe Ford would be in play. The problem there is, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric and Cole Custer are not going to be let go. Is there any room?

Needless to say, someone is getting a steal in Jones.

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