Erik Jones accomplished all but two goals in his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. He didn’t win a race and didn’t make the Playoffs. The rookie of the year faced the media at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour last week.
Jones won Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors after a debut season that included five top-five finishes and 14 top-10s as a member of Furniture Row Racing. With the No. 77 car being retired in 2018, he moves to Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry. The Byron, Michigan, native gets a golden opportunity to do what he couldn’t last year, win a race and make the Playoffs. And, while Jones is with a new team, his crew chief at Furniture Row, Chris Gayle, joins him at JGR to ease the transition.
“At least you get to work with the same guy for two years in a row, which is something I haven’t really gotten to do in my career – even racing late models,” Jones said on Tuesday.
Jones’ teammate last year, Martin Truex Jr., won eight races and the series championship in his fourth year with Colorado-based Furniture Row. Jones’ best chance at a victory came in August at Bristol Motor Speedway. He won the pole, led a race-high 260 laps and finished second to Kyle Busch – who is now one of his teammates.
“There were a lot of unknowns last year,” Jones said of his one-year stop at Furniture Row. “Going into a new series with a new team, a new group of guys (was challenging). … Having everybody in place, knowing Chris and knowing the Cup Series better than I did last year is an advantage.
“We’ll see how it all goes. I’m definitely at a more comfortable point with the Cup Series than I was a year ago.”