Erik Jones to Make Official Sprint Cup Debut at Kansasby Kyle Pokrefky April 30, 2015 0 comments
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — 18-year-old Erik Jones will have the racing opportunity of his life facing him in one week as he will officially make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the SpongeBob Squarepants 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Officially being announced on Thursday morning as the long-term sub for Kyle Busch in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota, Jones will replace David Ragan as the team’s substitute driver for the injured Busch. Ragan will make his last start of the season in the No. 18 car this Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway before departing for Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota for the remainder of the season.
Jones, who is currently running for the Camping World Truck Series drivers championship for Busch-owned Kyle Busch Motorsports, has one race under his belt at the Sprint Cup level – relieving Denny Hamlin as a mid-race substitute at Bristol Motor Speedway two weeks ago, bringing JGR’s No. 11 Toyota home 26th. Jones was not credited with the finish, however, as Hamlin was the driver to take the green flag of the race.
“I’m pretty excited and grateful for the opportunity to drive the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry in the Sprint Cup Series and make my debut for Joe Gibbs Racing,” Jones said. “This is a really good opportunity for me.
“We are going to try to manage our expectations and if we can go out and get a top-15 run and gain some experience, that would be a great day for us.
“I’m also excited about representing M&M’s, a great longtime partner at JGR and such a well-known brand. I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the M&M’s Toyota at Kansas.”
The Byron, Mich. native will run double-duty at Kansas in one week, racing in the weekend’s accompanying Truck Series event next Friday.
In 20 career Truck Series races, Jones has four victories, nine top-fives and 16 top-10 finishes. The current driver of the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota currently sits third in the 2015 drivers standings through three of 23 races.
Prior to heading off to Kansas next week, Jones will race in the Winn-Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway in the XFINITY Series – a series in which he earned his first career win in at Texas Motor Speedway three weeks ago – in a Joe Gibbs-owned No. 20 Toyota.
Photo credit: Doug Pensinger/NASCAR via Getty Images