Sunday, May 22, 2022

Erik Jones moving to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – JUNE 14: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Toyota Accessories Toyota, stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on June 14, 2020 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Erik Jones will make the jump from Joe Gibbs Racing, to Richard Petty Motorsports, announcing Thursday that he will take the reigns of the iconic No. 43 Camaro beginning in 2021.

The deal for Jones is a multi-year contract, giving Jones a place to call home as the Next Gen car arrives soon.

“Erik is an exceptionally talented driver, and we are excited to have him join our team,” Brian Moffitt, chief executive officer at Richard Petty Motorsports, said. “At only 24-years old, Erik is part of NASCAR’s next generation of stars. He has won races at every level in NASCAR he has competed in – including in the NASCAR Cup Series. Erik is a proven winner and we look forward to providing him with the opportunity to add more wins to this already impressive resume.”

Jones’ names joins the likes of Richard Petty, John Andretti, and Aric Almriola to adorn the No. 43 on their car.

“It is an incredible honor to have Richard Petty want you to drive for his race team and with the car number he made famous,” Jones said. “Richard Petty Motorsports has a rich history in the sport, but they are not resting on that history. They still have something to prove, and I have something to prove. We are both motivated to write a new chapter. I am proud to be a part of Richard Petty Motorsports.”

As far as personnel around him, Jerry Baxter, who worked with outgoing driver Bubba Wallace, will call the shots for Jones. Baxter and Jones have a reunion  of sorts, after working together at Kyle Busch Motorsports.

The Byron, Michigan native has spent nearly his entire NASCAR Career driving in the Toyota camp, often being touted as Toyota’s next big driver from his days in the ARCA Menards Series and the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series.

Jones was crowned the 2015 Truck Series Champion with Kyle Busch Motorsports, immediately thrusting him into a 2016 full-time schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing. He stayed in the series full-time for only one season, scoring four wins, and nine poles on his way to a fourth place finish in the points.   The following season, during his first full-season in the Cup Series, Jones continued a part-time schedule in the Xfinity Series.

While at Joe Gibbs Racing on the Cup Series side, Jones often struggled behind his teammates of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and now Martin Truex Jr.

In 144 starts in the Cup Series since 2015, Jones has only found victory lane twice, once in 2018 and once in 2019. In four seasons, Jones only qualified for the playoffs twice, finishing 15th in 2018, and 16th in 2019. Jones missed the 2020 edition of the Playoffs.

Earlier this season, Jones was nearing an extension on his JGR contract, as learned by CBS Sports’ Matt Mayer, but the closure of Leavine Family Racing shifted the attention to fellow Toyota driver Christopher Bell. Jones was eventually informed that his driving duties were no longer needed, giving the No. 20 seat to Bell.

As far as sponsorship for Jones, Moffitt confirmed to the AP’s Jenna Fryer that some sponsors will stay within the organization, and not follow Wallace to the Denny Hamlin / Michael Jordan team. Moffitt also said that the team is still searching for additional funding.

Additional sponsorship details will  be announced at a later date.





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