Erik Jones Prepares for Uncertainty of NASCAR Offseason

Erik Jones

Getty Erik Jones waves to the crowd at Pocono Raceway.

The end of the NASCAR regular season approaches, and several drivers are preparing to fight for the championship trophy. Others, such as Erik Jones, are examining their options ahead of free agency. The 25-year-old does not have a guaranteed seat for 2022, but he “is pretty happy” at Richard Petty Motorsports amid uncertainty about his future.

The Cup Series driver made the comment to media members after a qualifying session on July 4. Jones explained that he has had some discussions with RPM about his option for next year but that his future remains uncertain. Though Jones noted that being part of a single-car team is a “good fit” for him after he spent three seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I’m pretty happy right now at RPM, to be honest,” Jones told reporters, per Fox Sports Bob Pockrass. “It’s been a good experience for me just coming to a single-car group. It’s a great fit for me, it’s a great fit for Chevrolet. We have an RCR [Richard Childress Racing] alliance. I don’t know. I’m pretty happy right now at RPM.”

Jones also clarified that he has not had any discussions with Trackhouse Racing about taking the second seat and joining Daniel Suarez. The team co-owned by Justin Marks and Pitbull has sparked countless discussions since announcing the purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operation on June 30, the majority of which focus on who will join Daniel Suarez on the track.

Jones is Midway Through His First Season With RPM

Erik Jones

GettyErik Jones practices at Circuit of the Americas.

A three-year driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones signed with RPM after losing his seat to Christopher Bell. He became a free agent and quickly filled another vacant vehicle. Bubba Wallace, the previous driver of the No. 43 RPM Chevrolet Camaro, announced that he would join a new team created by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.

Since joining RPM and taking over the No. 43, Jones has yet to win a race for the underfunded team. However, he has two top-10 finishes, one at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and one at Bristol Motor Speedway on dirt. He is 26th in points, well below the cutoff line.

Barring a win, Jones will not have an opportunity to compete for the Bill France Cup in the playoffs. However, he can continue pushing for top-10 finishes, which would potentially draw in some new partners and prompt RPM to activate the option year on his contract.

The Upcoming Schedule Features Tracks Where Jones Has Won

Erik Jones Win

GettyErik Jones celebrates a win at Daytona International Speedway.

While Jones may not have the top-level equipment at JGR, he has considerable experience at the tracks on the upcoming schedule. This list includes Darlington Raceway and Daytona International Speedway, the sites of his two career Cup victories.

Jones first captured the checkered flag during the 2018 season. He suited up for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on July 7 and started the race in the 29th position. Jones steadily worked his way through the field and only led one lap. However, he reached the front of the pack when it mattered and secured the first Cup win of his career.

Jones captured the win in the 2019 Bojangles’ Southern 500, holding off Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick to reach Victory Lane. The former JGR driver led 79 of the 367 laps and locked up a spot in the playoffs.

The 25-year-old will now take on these two tracks, albeit at a much different time. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Aug. 28 will serve as the final regular-season race and the final opportunity for bubble drivers to lock up a spot in the playoffs. The Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sept. 5 will then kick off the Round of 16.

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