Erik Jones Out at Joe Gibbs Racing; Christopher Bell In

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 14: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, stands by his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 14, 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Erik Jones will not return to Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota in 2021, the team confirmed Thursday night.

The news came a few hours after it was revealed on Fox Sports’ RaceHub that Christopher Bell will take over the ride in 2021.

“We appreciate all Erik has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over the past several years,” team owner Joe Gibbs said. “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, 24, is in his fourth full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series. He joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 after spending his rookie season with the shuttered Furniture Row Racing.

The Michigan native has won two races in NASCAR’s premier series — at Daytona International Speedway in 2018 and at Darlington Raceway in 2019. His best finish in the final standings was 15th in 2018. He came in 16th last season and currently ranks 18th with six races remaining in the 2020 regular season.

Jones’ 2020 contract was a one-year deal he signed late in the 2019 season.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity that JGR provided me over the last four years and I wish the team nothing but success and good fortune,” Jones said. “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.”

“Erik has been an incredible friend to Toyota throughout the last eight years,” Ed Laukes, Group Vice President, Marketing, Toyota Motor North America said in a statement. “We’ve become close not only to Erik, but to his entire family. We’ve celebrated together, we’ve cried together and we’ve supported each other through it all. Unfortunately, the time has come that we have to part ways from a competitive standpoint. We know Erik will continue to do great things in this sport and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. We will certainly continue to follow his career and will be there to congratulate him as he continues to succeed.”

Bell is the 2017 Truck Series champion. He’s currently a Toyota Racing Development driver and races for Leavine Family Racing in the Cup series. That team, who has an alliance with JGR, recently announced they will be shutting down at the end of this season.

 

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