Erik Jones missed out on the postseason this year. It was the first time since his rookie season that he didn’t race for the championship in September. The last two years, he finished 40th, 11th and 30th in Round 1 of 2018 and 36th, 38th and 40th in Round 1 of 2019. That got him eliminated in the opening round of each.
This year, he’s not championship eligible, but he finished fourth in the Southern 500 and third on Saturday night in Bristol. That would have got him by to the second round. That’s 2020, right?
“I just go out and race and do my own thing,” Jones said. “I obviously wish we were in the playoffs and racing for a championship, but you know, it is what it is, right. I didn’t make it, and for me I guess going into it you do the same things and you just try to go out and run strong.
“It’s pretty funny to outrun all the playoff guys. It’s good to be out there and in contention. Like I said, I wish we were in it, but for me I don’t really treat it too much differently.“
Jones’ only top 10 finishes over his last 10 starts on the sesaon came in the playoffs, two for three. That’s the opposite of his last couple of years.
He says that while he’s a free agent next year, he hopes these runs lead to something new quickly.
“Obviously a win would have been even better, but it’s a good run for us,” said Jones
“I don’t know if one body of work really establishes who you are. We’ve always been strong here at Bristol. I hope that I can continue getting a car that’s in contention to win races and go out and win more races.
“I feel like there’s a lot of races out there that we can go win with a new team, and I feel like I can go help a new team and make them better and maybe they can help me and continue to make me a better race car driver, too.
“You hope it helps. Every strong run doesn’t hurt, so hopefully I can finish the year out strong, I guess, and get a win here before the year is over.
As far as a timeline, he says he’s talked to multiple teams, it’s just the old funding dilemma.
“Yeah, there’s stuff moving along. We’ve been in a lot of talks with multiple different teams and trying to find an opportunity. It’s a tough environment.
“There’s definitely teams that are struggling to find sponsorship and find money. There’s rides obviously open out there. I don’t bring anything but my butt, I guess, to put in the seat. It’s challenging, but like I said, there are good rides out there, and hopefully I can get an opportunity with one of them and build a relationship with a sponsor there that we can go out and be a contender.
“We’re moving along, and hopefully within the next few weeks or month I hope we can announce something.”