The doubters and nay-sayers can now take a vacation, as far as Erik Jones is concerned.
Buoyed by his victory in last weekend’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Jones has signed a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing that will keep him in the No. 20 Toyota next season, ending misguided speculation that he might lose his job to rising star Christopher Bell.
In recent weeks, Jones had expressed confidence that he and JGR were close to a deal.
“I’m so happy to finally have my plans for 2020 confirmed and to talk about it,” said Jones, who has two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories to his credit. “I’m excited to be staying with Joe Gibbs Racing and the 20 team and to continue the success that we have built over the last two years in the Cup Series.
“I put my heart and soul into this and this race team. This is my living and how I want to make a career and what I want to do. I’ve been racing with JGR since 2014, and it’s really cool to be able to continue with the foundation we’ve built over the years and hopefully win more races and contend for championships together.”
Jones was “discovered” by JGR teammate Kyle Busch, who lost a heated battle to the then 16-year-old in the 2012 Snowball Derby. Busch subsequently signed Jones to drive a Kyle Busch Motorsports entry in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, and in his only full season with KBM, Jones delivered at series championship in 2015.
Running a full NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule in 2016, Jones won four times and finished fourth in the final standings. He picked up his first Cup victory in the July 2018 Daytona race and qualified for the 2019 Playoffs last week with his victory at Darlington.
“Erik has accomplished so much in our sport already and yet, he really is just at the start of a long career,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “He’s been a part of Joe Gibbs Racing for almost his entire professional career and we’re excited to see what the future holds for him.”
For one year at least, that future lies in the No. 20 Camry.