Brandon Jones’ ‘Best Case Scenario’ for Cup Series Move [EXCLUSIVE]

Getty Brandon Jones has plans to get in a Cup Series car.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones is in the midst of the 2022 Xfinity Series season, and he has the goal of winning a championship. He has also revealed his best-case scenario for a potential move to the NASCAR Cup Series.

Jones spoke to Heavy ahead of the trip to Portland International Raceway, and he laid out what he considers to be a solid path to the top level of NASCAR. He explained that he would ideally make a part-time move first to get acclimated to the Next Gen cars before taking on a full-time schedule.

“I mean, my long-term goal is to eventually get to that Cup level, some way or the other,” Jones told Heavy. “And so I’ve always said, if it’s possible, the best-case scenario, you go make maybe five races a year. If you’re able to do Xfinity or something, you’re able to go run a couple Cup races before you just dig headfirst into it.

“I think that would be kind of the ideal way. And I know sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes you get the opportunity to go straight to it, and it’s hard to turn down if it’s a good car.”

ALL the latest NASCAR news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on NASCAR newsletter here!

Sign up for the Heavy on NASCAR Newsletter!

Part of the Reasoning Boils Down to a Learning Curve

Brandon Jones

GettyBrandon Jones (left) has seen his Xfinity Series peers adjust to a learning curve.

There are multiple reasons for wanting to start out part-time before moving to a full-time Cup Series schedule. One is that it’s difficult for a rookie to just dive in with no previous starts and contend for a win on a weekly basis against veterans and champions. The other is the sizable difference between the styles of stock cars.

“I do think you would be shocked — just going from even Xfinity to Cup Series — how much different it probably would be if you were to just jump straight into it,” Jones said. “So yeah, I think when you make the move, you need to be ready.

“And I don’t know if anyone is ever 100% ready, but you have to at least have the confidence once you make the move because it is gonna be tough. I mean, I’ve seen that out of plenty of guys that made it this year to the next level.”

Jones has seen some of his peers deal with a learning curve while moving up to the Cup Series. A fitting example is JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson, who has made his first six starts in the series while driving for both Beard Motorsports and Kaulig Racing. He has run near the top 10 at times, but he has also fallen victim to the tire issues and slides that have sent multiple drivers into the wall.

“He’s doing it the way that I mentioned, that would be a good way to do it,” Jones continued. “I mean, he’s diving into a couple races in a really good car too. Very competitive race cars. So yeah, I mean, I think that’s the right way. So that way, if you ever get the opportunity to take the next step, it’s not a full shock. It’s like, okay, I know how these guys restart and how aggressive they get when it comes time to pass and stuff. And that way you kind of have an idea going into it.”

A Former Teammate Has Faced His Own Learning Curve

Another example that illustrates how part-time Cup Series starts can benefit drivers is Harrison Burton. The former Joe Gibbs Racing driver made his move to the top level of NASCAR in 2022 with only one career start on his resume, a 20th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in 2021.

Burton experienced some success during his two full-time Xfinity Series seasons. He won four races and posted 44 top-10 finishes. This two-year run helped him land a seat in the famed No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford Mustang.

Burton’s first full season featured some issues early. He crashed in the Daytona 500 after contact from Brad Keselowski, and then he crashed the following week at Auto Club Speedway.

Burton has finished all but three of the first 14 races while running in the middle of the pack, but he has made positive strides in recent weeks. He finished 14th at Darlington Raceway, 21st at Kansas Speedway, and a career-best 11th at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Burton acknowledged during a mid-May conference call with reporters that he has dealt with some growing pains. However, he clarified that these struggles on the track have helped him realize that he is never going to quit and that he still has that fire to keep getting better.

Would Burton have dealt with these growing pains if he had made more than one Cup Series start before moving full-time? The answer remains unclear, but Jones would like to have more starts on his resume before making his own move.

READ NEXT: Hendrick Motorsports Announces Return to Another Series

Read More