Erik Jones Won’t Return To Joe Gibbs Racing

0
5362
Erik Jones is not expected to return to Joe Gibbs Racing next year. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)
Erik Jones is not expected to return to Joe Gibbs Racing next year. (HHP/Harold Hinson Photo)

CONCORD, N.C. – Erik Jones, who is currently in his third full season with Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will not return to the team next year.

FOX Sports first reported the news Tuesday evening on NASCAR Race Hub on FS1 and the team and Jones later confirmed the news.

“We appreciate all Erik has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over the past several years,” Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs said. “He joined us as a teenager and has accomplished so much in his time here and we remain focused on the remainder of this season and earning him a spot in the playoffs.”

Jones joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 after contesting his rookie year at NASCAR’s top level with Furniture Row Racing in 2017. In 92 starts with Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones has scored two victories, 24 top fives and 43 top-10 finishes.

His two victories came at Daytona Int’l Speedway in 2018 and at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in 2019 during the Southern 500. He also won the pre-season Busch Clash at Daytona Int’l Speedway this year.

“Erik has been an incredible friend to Toyota throughout the last eight years. We’ve become close not only to Erik, but to his entire family,” said Ed Laukes, Group Vice President, Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “We’ve celebrated together, we’ve cried together and we’ve supported each other through it all. Unfortunately, the time has come that we have to part ways from a competitive standpoint. We know Erik will continue to do great things in this sport and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. We will certainly continue to follow his career and will be there to congratulate him as he continues to succeed.”

The news comes days after Leavine Family Racing owner Bob Leavine announced he had sold his race team, which has an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. Christopher Bell, who is under contract to Joe Gibbs Racing, is currently contesting his rookie season at the Cup Series level with Leavine Family Racing.

Bell spoke to SPEED SPORT reporter Kyle McFadden Wednesday during the USAC Eastern Midget Week event at Action Track USA in Kutztown, Pa. He said he was disappointed to find out about Leavine Family Racing’s closure, but didn’t discuss what his plans were for 2021 and beyond.

Bell is believed to be the likely candidate to fill the vacant seat in the Joe Gibbs Racing stable.

“Obviously disappointing to get that news, but it’s been business as usual,” Bell said Wednesday. “It doesn’t affect us until next year. Right now we’re focused on doing the best we can at Michigan and the rest of the year.

“We’re just in a sport where there’s a lot of really talented drivers and unfortunately there’s not a lot of cars. I don’t know where it’s all going to fall, obviously a lot up in the air, but I’m fortunate to be racing the rest of the year.”