He is the least successful of the four NASCAR Cup Series drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing, but Erik Jones has goals to change that this year. Overshadowed in both experience and age, the 23-year-old knows he is the clear No. 4 driver behind Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Denny Hamlin.
That’s fine with him, however. Jones is in the last year of his contract with JGR, and there are rumors that if he has a mediocre season, he could be replaced with Christopher Bell.
Jones told reporters at Wednesday’s Daytona 500 Media Day he isn’t concerned about resigning with JGR.
“I have no intention of leaving my role there,” Jones said. “I’d love to continue that, but it is definitely a crazy year. There’s a lot of things happening. There’s a lot of things in motion, I guess, already probably for people, not really for me. I’m excited to see. The pressure is on myself from within, right? There’s no pressure from the outside, in my opinion. It’s pressure from me trying to perform.”
Jones Off to a Fast Start
Jones certainly began the year the way he wanted to, taking the checkered flat at last Sunday’s Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway. It was an exhibition race, but Jones said it gives him strong momentum going into Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“I want to run well, I want to win races,” Jones said. “I think if you can do that, the rest of the things are going to come with it, what you want to do. You’ll have as many choices as you want. Hopefully that’s the case.”
Jones signed a one-year deal for 2020 in September, and expects nothing to be set for 2021 until later in the year.
“At this point in the year, you don’t know. It’s too early,” Jones said. “Last year, I would say by May, June, I felt pretty confident in coming back, what we had going on. You just can’t really get it out there yet. I think for me, you always kind of know what you got going.”
Logano, Keselowski Make Up
At Sunday’s Busch Clash, Brad Keselowski blasted Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano after Logano’s block on Kyle Busch caused a crash that knocked Keselowski out of the race.
“It was just dumb to take out the best car for a move that was never going to work,” Keselowski said.
The two met after the incident, and both said they ironed out their differences.
“We’re going to have different opinions on a lot of things all the time,” Logano said. “It’s part of racing and things like that, but I think we’ll be fine.”
Keselowski said his stance on blocking hasn’t changed, but he’s satisfied with his discussion with Logano.
“I think I’ve been consistent and verbal about blocking on the race track, so I don’t really have anything that I feel differently about with respect to that,” Keselowski said. “But as far as the comments specific to Joey, I’ll keep those between him and I.”
This Week’s Odds, Pick
The NASCAR Cup Series begins this Sunday with the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Four drivers, Logano, Keselowski, Busch, and Hamlin are all at 10/1. We like Jones at 30/1. He won the Busch Clash last weekend on the same racetrack, and he finished third in the 2019 Daytona 500.