Joe Gibbs Racing taps Matt Kenseth’s replacement for Texas, Phoenix
With Matt Kenseth serving a two-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing has tapped 19-year-old Erik Jones to pilot the No. 20 Toyota this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
Jones currently leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, and is now pulling triple duty this weekend in Fort Worth, also running the XFINITY Series race on Saturday.
"It’s been busy today," Jones said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "I think today was the busiest day overall for us – just the sense that we’re practicing all three cars and we’re racing tonight in the Truck Series. It’s just been kind of a busy day and going back and forth between all three series and all these garages and trying to get our stuff setup right."
This weekend marks Jones’ second official Sprint Cup Series start. In April, Jones finished the race at Bristol Motor Speedway for Denny Hamlin, who was suffering from neck spasms. Flown in from Charlotte, North Carolina, that night, Jones climbed into a Cup car for the first time and finished 26th. Since Jones did not start the race, he was not credited with the start.
Jones’ official Sprint Cup debut came back in May at Kansas Speedway, where he filled in for injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota. In that race, Jones qualified 12th and was running well until the car broke loose and hit the outside wall. He wound up 40th.
Before receiving the official word he would fill in for Kenseth on Thursday, Jones said his main focus would be on Truck and XFINITY Series events. With two wins on the season, Jones leads two-time and reigning Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton by just 10 points, with Tyler Reddick just 13 points back in third.
For Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, Jones’ goal is to simply run all the laps and be competitive.
"We want to make it to the end of the race," he said. "In Kansas we had really good speed and unfortunately didn’t put ourselves in even a position to have a shot by not making it to the end, which was my fault. I want to be able to make it to the end of the race and say we ran all 334 laps on Sunday and if we can sat that and have run in the top 15, I think that’s a really good day for us."