Erik Jones has to wonder what if. What if Jones made the playoffs in 2020. This is the second time in four years that he didn’t and in the two previous years that he did, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver struggled. In six combined first round races, Jones had five finishes of 30th or worse.
This year, he doesn’t make the playoffs and he’s having a career run now in them.
Jones, has five top eight finishes in six tries including four of which being in the top five. On Sunday, Jones’ No. 20 Toyota wouldn’t even start at the beginning. They were dealing with an electrical problem. His windshield wiper was working but wasn’t turned on. So, a crewman hopped in to diagnose which, is a penalty and cost him his starting spot.
“That’s nice. I think we’ve had our share of ups and downs,” Jones said. “Definitely more ups in the last month and a half than downs. So that’s good.
“We’re doing what we’re supposed to do, up and running in the top five each and every week. I think Vegas even we could have run in the top five had things worked out a little bit differently at the end of the race.
“We’re right there. We want to win a race bad. We just haven’t had quite enough speed at some of these places to really cap it off. Today we got kind of lucky with the pit call there at the end and got some good track position with new tires.
“Overall, though, it feels good. I’m still hunting to finish up my plans for next year. I think every good run doesn’t hurt. Can only make things a little easier.”
Jones, would start last now. He’s still fight up to finish 10th in Stage 1 but fall to 19th in Stage 2. In the end, there he was in the top five again as he would come away in third.
“I think things are just falling our way,” Jones continued. “Our cars have been a little bit better, but it’s nothing light-years ahead of anything we’ve done all year really. I just think we had some crazy circumstances through the year. Some of it was our own doing, some of it was just mistakes on pit road or mistakes on my part.
“The last month has just been smooth. We haven’t made any mistakes really. We’ve had some things not go our way, but we’ve had some things that did and made up for mistakes or things that didn’t go our way early in the race.
“Even today, the car didn’t start before the race, had to start dead last, drove up to the front. Got caught behind the 2 when he spun out, lost a ton of track position. Drove back up front again.
“I don’t know. I think there’s definitely some better things that are falling for us, whatever that may be. I don’t know that we’re really doing anything a whole lot different than what we’ve done.”
He’s showing the owners out there that they should give him a chance in 2021 since he’s a free agent.
said Jones. “I think any time you can help your stock is good. I’ve ran good on every style of track. Talladega and Bristol, Las Vegas, the road course today. I don’t know. Obviously I wish I would have won ’em all.
“I don’t know what more to do. Sometimes we run really strong, I feel like I hope I get a good ride next year. Still working hard at it. Still trying to work things out. But we’re heading in the right direction on a lot of things, too.
“It’s frustrating sometimes when you think about it. You run up front, I know we haven’t won a race this year, but it’s tough sitting in this spot being out of a ride, not having one set up so far.”