When the NASCAR Cup Series competes in the Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway on Thursday, July 23, Erik Jones will reach a significant milestone of his racing career. By starting this week’s race at Kansas, Jones will reach 250 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series.
A native from Byron, Michigan, Jones’ racing career started at age seven in quarter-midget racing. From quarter midgets to Late Models, the CRA All-Star Tour and the ARCA Racing Series, Jones gained the attention of NASCAR Cup Series competitor Kyle Busch in December 2012, whom Jones beat to win the Snowball Derby. The following season, Jones made his first appearance within NASCAR’s three major division series when Kyle Busch Motorsports signed Jones to a five-race Truck Series deal in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra. Racing at Martinsville Speedway, Rockingham Speedway and in two Iowa Speedway races, Jones achieved top-10 results in all of his starts. In November, Jones prevailed in a late battle with Ross Chastain to record his first Truck Series career win at Phoenix International Raceway. Prior to September 2014, Jones was the youngest winner across NASCAR’s major series at age 17 years, five months and eight days old. Jones’ win at Phoenix contributed to KBM’s No. 51 Toyota team winning the owners’ championship in a tie-breaker against eventual champion Matt Crafton and ThorSport Racing.
In 2014, Jones competed in 12 Truck races with KBM and made his first three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in the No. 20 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. In the Truck Series, Jones won three races and recorded two poles, five top-five results and eight top-10 results as he contributed to winning the second consecutive Truck owners’ title for KBM. Racing at Chicagoland Speedway in July, Bristol Motor Speedway in August and at Phoenix International Speedway in November, all in the Xfinity Series, Jones finished in the top 10.
In 2015, Jones expanded his racing schedule by competing the entire 23-race schedule in the Truck Series for KBM and in 23 Xfinity Series races for JGR. In the Xfinity Series, Jones recorded his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway in April after beating Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. He won his second race at Chicagoland in June and went on to record three poles, 13 top-five results and 17 top-10 results. In the Truck Series, Jones achieved three wins, five poles, 11 top-five results and 20 top-10 results as he beat Tyler Reddick and Crafton to win the 2015 Truck Series championship. With his title, Jones became the youngest Truck Series champion at age 19 years, five months and 20 days old as he also recorded the first drivers’ title for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
To go along with his eventful 2015 schedule, Jones turned in his first laps in the NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol in April, where he served as a relief competitor for Denny Hamlin, who relinquished his seat to Jones due to neck spasms. While Jones finished 26th, Hamlin was credited with the result and the points since he started the race. Jones made his official Cup debut at Kansas Speedway in May, driving the No. 18 M&M’s/Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry as an interim competitor for the injured and eventual series champion Kyle Busch. Despite having a strong run, where he ran within the top five, Jones was involved in a late single-car incident in Turn 4 and settled in 40th. In November, Jones competed in two races in JGR’s No. 20 DeWalt/Dollar General Toyota Camry at Texas Motor Speedway and at Phoenix, replacing Matt Kenseth, who was suspended for deliberately wrecking Joey Logano the previous race at Martinsville Speedway. Jones finished 12th at Texas and 19th at Phoenix.
The following season, Jones moved up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry. Throughout the 33-race schedule, Jones won four races, two Dash 4 Cash bonuses and nine poles as he also achieved 15 top-five results and 20 top-10 results. He made the inaugural Championship Round, but finished fourth in the final standings after finishing ninth in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Though he did not achieve his first Xfinity title, he was named the 2016 Rookie-of-the-Year in the series. By then, he had surpassed 100 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series as he also made one Truck start at Gateway Motorsports Park in June for Kyle Busch Motorsports, where he finished fifth.
In 2017, Jones graduated to the Cup Series and was named driver of the No. 77 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry for Furniture Row Racing, which marks the first and only time FRR expanded to a two-car operation. Throughout his rookie Cup season, Jones recorded his first career pole along with five top-five results and 14 top-10 results. His best performances were at Michigan International Speedway and at Bristol in August. He finished third at Michigan, his home track, and dominated the following race at Bristol, leading a race-high 260 laps from the pole before he was overtaken by Kyle Busch in the closing laps and settled in second. Despite not recording a win throughout the season nor making the Playoffs, Jones beat Daniel Suarez to claim the Rookie-of-the-Year title. With his accomplishment, Jones also became the first NASCAR competitor to achieve the Rookie-of-the-Year title across NASCAR’s three major division series. He also competed in 18 Xfinity races for JGR, where he won three races and swept both Texas races.
The following season, Jones replaced Matt Kenseth as driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry for JGR. Through the first 17 races, Jones finished in the top 10 seven times and was ranked in 14th in the regular-season standings. The following week in July, Jones survived a carnage-filled night to beat former teammate/reigning champion Martin Truex Jr. and achieve his first NASCAR Cup career win at Daytona International Speedway. To July 2020, Jones is one of 33 competitors to record a victory across NASCAR’s three major division series. At the time of his win, he also became the ninth Cup competitor to win driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. The victory guaranteed a spot in the Playoffs for Jones, crew chief Chris Gayle and the No. 20 team. Jones, however, achieved one pole and 10 top-10 results for the remainder of the season as he concluded the year in 15th in the final standings. While he did not compete in any Xfinity race, he made one start in the Truck Series at Pocono Raceway in July as a relief competitor for Noah Gragson. He finished in the runner-up spot following a late battle with Kyle Busch.
Jones remained with JGR in the Cup Series for the 2019 season. Throughout last season, Jones recorded his second Cup career win in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in September, a victory that guaranteed the Michigan native a spot in the Playoffs for the second consecutive year. In addition, Jones recorded 10 top-five results and 17 top-10 results before concluding the year in 16th in the final standings. When the 2019 season concluded, Jones had surpassed 200 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series as he also made one Xfinity start during the season at Bristol in August, where he finished 37th in XCI Racing’s No. 81 Toyota Supra after being involved in an early accident.
Through the first 18 Cup races of this season, Jones has recorded four top-five results and seven top-10 results. He is ranked 18th in the regular-season standings and is 24 points below the top-16 cutline in an effort to make his third consecutive Cup Playoffs appearance. His lone highlight to this season has been winning the non-points Busch Clash at Daytona in February, where he rallied from being involved in three multi-car wrecks to receive a push from teammate Denny Hamlin on the final lap and pull away to win with a wrecked car.
Catch Jones’ milestone start in NASCAR in the Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas on July 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.