HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Most NASCAR Xfinity Series fans might think that Brandon Jones’ extension with Joe Gibbs Racing for next season, announced Tuesday afternoon, would have taken some pressure off of his shoulders as he pursues his first series championship.
But Jones told SPEED SPORT during a Wednesday videoconference that such thinking is inaccurate because he isn’t feeling any extra pressure going into the round of eight of the playoffs.
The penultimate round of the postseason begins Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, with the running of the Kansas Lottery 300. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Jones has won the last two Xfinity Series races at the 1.5-mile oval, including last fall’s playoff event at the Kansas City track, marking his first series victory in 134 starts.
That kind of performance has Jones confident coming into the three-race stretch that will determine the four drivers who will fight for the Xfinity Series championship during the title decider on Nov. 7 at Arizona’s Phoenix Raceway.
“(The extension) is really big on its own,” Jones noted. “I think, at least for myself anyways, there wasn’t going to be any added pressure. Even if I didn’t have anything (for 2021), I feel like this was still the time to let the pressure go if it’s possible to do that. I know that this is high-stakes racing. Everything’s ramped up right now but if you look at the tracks that are coming up for us, there are two really strong tracks in this round where I feel we can make our mark.
“I feel that there really isn’t much pressure because of that but I definitely think having next year locked in is a big relief. At the same time, it’ll motivate me to go win this championship so I can back up JGR’s faith in me.”
After a season which has featured three wins, a pole (in March at Auto Club Speedway), nine top-five results and 16 top-10 finishes through 29 races, heavy speculation arose that Jones might be in line to move up to the NASCAR Cup Series next year.
Jones’ extension with the JGR Xfinity program quashed those rumors but Jones dismissed them further by noting that he’s not quite ready to depart the Xfinity Series for deeper waters just yet.
“I know that there was lots of speculation and lots and lots of rumors about me moving up but I still feel like I have some unfinished business in the Xfinity Series,” Jones said. “I also feel that there are just not many Cup rides available right now. If you look at the field and where everyone’s going, and then where everyone’s at, it’s kind of already filled up as best as it can get, I feel like … at least for right now.
“In the future, my plan is to definitely get to that level,” Jones added. “I feel like that’s everyone’s goal in this series right now, is to try to get themselves to the Cup level. But it takes a long time. Like I’ve mentioned before, I couldn’t be any happier to be at Joe Gibbs Racing. They’re one of the best teams out there right now at both the Xfinity level and the Cup level and it’s so fun to work with those guys.
“Right now, we’re happy with what’s ahead and we’ll look toward the future when it gets closer.”
As Jones prepares for his return to the Xfinity Series in 2021, SPEED SPORT asked the Georgia young gun about his goals for the upcoming year. Jones’ answer was simple.
“That’s honestly a good question. Typically, (setting goals) is something that I would do during the offseason to try and get ready for next year,” Jones explained. “I’m so focused right now on chasing this Xfinity Series championship and trying to get it done that I haven’t really thought that far ahead just yet.
“But man, I think if anything, we want some more wins, and if we get to practicing and qualifying again, some more poles. You always want to go out there and better yourself from years past. I think that’s always a good goal, no matter the season, whether it’s by one or more. But if you can always continue to do better and better every year, that’s all you can really ask for.
“We want to show that I’m still progressing and learning and I feel like I’m in a good position to do that.”