Erik Jones has found a home. Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that Jones will be the driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet starting next season.
Jones was let go at Joe Gibbs Racing in early August as that organization made way for Christopher Bell who will take over Jones’ No. 20 Toyota next season. RPM said the deal with Jones is a multi-year agreement.
“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 entered NASCAR as a Toyota Development driver after two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch hired him from the Late Model ranks. That led to 18 national series wins, including the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title in 2015. The 24-year old was the first driver ever to win Rookie of the Year honors in all of NASCAR’s top-three national touring series. He moved to the NASCAR Cup series in 2017 and has scored two wins, at the July 2018 race at Daytona and added a win in the Southern 500 at Darlington last fall. He made the postseason playoffs in 2018 and 2019 but remains winless this season and missed the cut.
“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.”
The team said crew chief Jerry Baxter will continue to lead the No. 43 team in 2021 with Jones. It will be a reunion of sorts for Baxter and Jones, who have their connection through Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series for three seasons.
Jones replaces Bubba Wallace who announced last month he will be leaving the team to drive for a new team being co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin. Wallace joined RPM in 2017 driving in a relief role while then-drive Arica Almirola recovered from injuries he received during a crash at Kansas. Wallace took over as the full-time driver the following season.