Shannon Spake on a Thursday episode of NASCAR Race Hub on FS1 confirmed that Erik Jones will not return to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Joe Gibbs Racing and Jones confirmed the report with a press release on Thursday evening.
“We appreciate all Erik has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over the past several years,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing in the release. “He joined us as a teenager and has accomplished so much in his time here and we remain focused on the remainder of this season and earning him a spot in the playoffs.”
Jones, who will finish out the season in the No. 20 car, wished his team well in the future and states that he remains focused on competing at the highest level.
“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.”
While no word on who will drive the No. 20 Toyota next season, the obvious choice would be Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Christopher Bell. Bell, who has been competing in his rookie season this year, found out he is currently ride-less for 2021 when Leavine Family Racing announced that they had sold their charter, assets and would be closing their race team at season’s end.
Bell has been a much coveted prospect by Toyota Racing for years.
This news will only fuel the rumor mill fire that Jones is the lead candidate to follow in Jimmie Johnson’s footsteps at Hendrick Motorsports next season.
Jones has two-career NASCAR Cup Series wins through 131 starts, and has made the Playoffs in each of the last two seasons. However, he has been snake-bitten by bad luck in 2020 and sits 18th in the championship standings, currently.
We are only in August and huge silly season dominoes are already beginning to fall.
Brad Keselowski re-signed with Team Penske to stay in the No. 2 car for another season on Monday. Then, came the news of LFR closing down on Tuesday. Now the Jones news on Thursday.
It feels like it’s going to be a sillier-than-usual silly season.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.