Erik Jones’ plans for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season are now known. He will remain with Richard Petty Motorsports for a second season.
Last Fall, he signed a multi-year deal to drive the No. 43 Chevrolet which has sparked some confusion. Some wonder why make an announcement on Sunday prior to the FireKeepers Casino 400 at the Michigan International Speedway if a deal was already in place?
Well, contracts sometimes don’t mean a whole lot in sports. There’s always wording for out clauses. For Jones’ sake, someone rather it be the team or driver held an option past this season.
If the option is picked up, he’s back a second year — hence the “multi-year” agreement. It could be he has a 2 year contract but could walk at seasons end with an option. Usually, dates for an option decision are agreed upon for the contract too so either side doesn’t get screwed.
Matt DiBenedetto signed a three year deal with the Wood Brothers but each year was an option year. That’s why he’s not back next year in the No. 21 Ford despite having a contract.
Jones, 25, is in his fifth full season of Cup Series competition. He joined the Richard Petty-owned team in 2021 after eight years with Joe Gibbs Racing and its affiliated teams across all three national series.
“I‘m just happy to have it done at this point in the season and to be able to focus not only on the rest of this year but work on getting next year settled in with a new car and everything going on there,” Jones said.
Jones currently sits in a tie for 24th in the Cup Series standings. His best finish this year is a seventh-place result at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, marking one of three top 10s for RPM this season.
Jones has two Cup Series victories to his credit, both coming at historic tracks on the schedule. He broke through at Daytona International Speedway in July 2018, then prevailed in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway the next year — both wins coming in Gibbs’ No. 20 Toyota.
Jones has 16 wins in other NASCAR national series. He drove to the Camping World Truck Series championship in 2015 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Richard Petty Motorsports is seeking its first Cup Series win since July 2014, when Aric Almirola prevailed for the team at Daytona.