Erik Jones entered the Quaker State 400 race weekend at the Kentucky Speedway wondering what his future in NASCAR might be. He was in a Joe Gibbs Racing car and had watched all three of his teammates reach victory lane in NASCAR’s premiere series multiple times. Meanwhile, Jones wasn’t even in the playoffs at NASCAR’s midway mark of the year. He was 13 points out of it.
All the while, he’s heard the noise too. He didn’t have a contract in place with JGR while NASCAR XFINITY Series driver for the team in Christopher Bell did. All signs pointed to Bell replacing Jones in the No. 20 Toyota for 2020.
But, Jones hasn’t gone quietly. In fact, he’s made up 67 points in the four races since and he went from 13 points down to 54 points up with four races remaining in the Cup Series regular season.
Jones, earned a fourth place finish in last Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen. It was his fourth straight top four finish of the season. Now, he heads to Michigan, his home track with wanting to keep this momentum going.
“It’s nice to keep that streak going and now going to two places – Michigan next week and then Bristol where I think we can win,” Jones said. “We have some really good momentum behind us these months. You can’t keep running up in the top-five every week and not win a race. That’s what I keep telling myself and hopefully we can do it here soon”
But, he has a slippery slope now. Do you go for wins and bonus points or just try to keep the momentum going and know that if you swing for the fences, you may strike out and end the recently found success?
“Real close,” Jones said on if he can focus on race wins, not points moving forward. “We’re right on the edge of that. We’re over a race up so we can definitely have a race where things don’t necessarily go our way, but we don’t want to get in a spot here with two races to go where we’re back in position where we have to really salvage points. We’ve done a great job this last month-and-a-half of carving our way back into it and really getting towards the top of the non-winners in the Playoff picture, which is a good feeling. Where we should be and where we belong – it’s nice to be up there. Points are off the mind a little bit more than they have been the last few weeks.”
Jones, has been good this weekend with fourth and first respectively in practice on Saturday and second and first on the 10 lap averages.