NASCAR Cup Series
Erik Jones out for Dover with compression fracture in back
NASCAR Cup Series

Erik Jones out for Dover with compression fracture in back

Updated Apr. 23, 2024 3:28 p.m. ET

Erik Jones will be sidelined this weekend as he suffered a compression fracture in his back in a hard crash Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Legacy Motor Club reserve driver Corey Heim, who competes full time in NASCAR's truck series and also spends several hours each week in the racing simulator to help Toyota's Cup teams with their setups, will fill in for Jones as he makes his Cup debut in the No. 43 car this weekend at Dover Motor Speedway.

"I’ve got a spinal fracture that is going to keep me out of the car for Dover this weekend," Jones said in a video posted on social media platforms. "I’m going to be taking it kind of week by week here and seeing how things go, but hope to back in the car as soon as I can."

Jones suffered the compression fracture in a lower vertebra, according to the team, and will be at the track Sunday for the race to watch the team and help Heim.


"Erik's long-term health is our number one priority," Legacy team co-owner Jimmie Johnson said. "It will be great to see him at the track Sunday, and we intend to give him the time it takes to recover properly.

"I know Corey will do a great job behind the wheel for the Club. In the meantime, our thoughts are with Erik and his wife Holly — they have our total support."

The 21-year-old Heim, a top Cup prospect, has six wins and 23 top-5s in 48 starts in trucks, where he drives for Tricon Garage. He is second in the current truck standings. Heim also has nine starts in the Xfinity Series, and will compete in both the Xfinity Series (for Sam Hunt Racing in its No. 26 car) and Cup this weekend at Dover.

Dover is a fast 1-mile banked concrete oval that also has a downhill slope into the turns that would make it difficult to drive with serious back pain. 

Jones suffered the injury in an accident where he was turned by Bubba Wallace after Wallace possibly got a push from Jones teammate John Hunter Nemechek as the Toyotas ran in their own pack with 34 laps left in the race Sunday.

'It'll be a long week' - Erik Jones on his back soreness

After initially being released from the infield medical center after the accident, Jones later returned to the care center and was taken to the hospital. 

"I'm sore," Jones said after the initial clearance. "It really stretched it out a lot. It'll be a long week just trying to get recovered and feeling better for next week. But I'm all right."

Unfortunately, it will take more than a week for Jones to get back in a car. He is 64 points outside the current playoff cutoff and while he has been granted a waiver from NASCAR to not start all the races but remain playoff eligible, he likely now will have to win a race once he returns.

NASCAR did take Jones' car back to its research and development center to analyze how the car performed in the crash from a safety standpoint.

The accident itself was frustrating as Toyota employed a strategy where they were needed to push hard in hopes of forcing the competition that were on a fuel conversation strategy to use more fuel.

"We were pushing and shoving and trying to make time with our strategy and I got pretty sideways getting into (Turn) 3 and tried to gather it up and then ended up really hard into the wall," Jones said after initially being released from the infield medical center.

"It's unfortunate. ... I guess if you're going to be dumb you've got to be tough, so we'll keep rolling."

Jones, Wallace and Denny Hamlin were not able to continue after their cars were damaged in the crash.

"We were all pushing really hard to keep our line going," Wallace said. "We had a plan and just didn't execute it as well as we should."

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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