Erik Jones Has Intriguing Possibilities For Next Season

Erik Jones Has Intriguing Possibilities For Next Season

by September 1, 2020 0 comments

In early August, the news of Leavine Racing having been purchased sent a ripple effect into the Toyota race camp. Not only would Gibbs be losing its Satellite team for next season, but it also left Christopher Bell without a ride for 2021. With so much already invested in Bell, it was not likely that they would just allow him to walk. To keep Bell in the Gibbs fold, they would need to eliminate one of the current Gibbs drivers. The big three of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex_Jr. were always considered untouchable. So this would leave Erik Jones as the lone driver on the chopping block.

While Jones was having his struggles with playoff qualification, he was also heading into a contract year after 2020. It wasn’t very long until the announcement, on Jones release had been made official. Jones, now in his fourth season in cup racing, spent his rookie campaign with the now-defunct Furniture Row Racing. That following off-season Jones would replace Matt Kenseth in the #20 Gibbs Toyota. In his first couple of years as a Gibbs driver, Jones had captured a playoff berth along with a pair of victories. With his release, Jones now enters the off-season as arguably the hottest available driver in upcoming free agency.

Jones now joins a jam-packed free-agent field, that will include such drivers as Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, Clint Bowyer, John Hunter Nemechek, Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, and Michael McDowell. And with prestigious teams such as Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Woods Brothers Racing, all with an available seat open this off-season. It all makes for an exciting opportunity for a young driver such as Jones.

Stewart-Haas Racing

Both Almirola and Bowyer will be seeking new deals following the conclusion of the 2020 race season. Looking at each of these drivers for next year, Almirola seems to be the more likely candidate to be brought back. When you consider that Almirola is not only five years younger than Bowyer, but has outperformed the No. 14 driver for much of this season.

Harvick signed a new two-year extension this past January and will be locked into the organization until at least his 47th birthday. Cole Custer has so far proven ownership right for bringing him up to the cup level after two superb seasons with the Xfinity team. After taking over the No. 41 car from Suarez this past off-season, he would go onto earn a playoff spot in his rookie season. Expect the potential rookie of the year to be kept around for 2021.

Adding Jones to this race team would go along way towards balancing out the chemistry between youth and veteran drivers. With their flagship driver inching closer and closer to retirement in these next handful of seasons, they will be looking to replenish the stable for later on down the road. Not only would they be getting a driver with plenty of cup experience but also someone with plenty of youth on his side. Consider that Jones is still only 24 years of age.

Hendrick Motorsports

For a time it was Penske driver Brad Keselowski that was hotly rumored to be the successor to Johnson. However, only a day after winning his third race this season it would be announced that Keselowski had signed a one-year extension taking him out of the running. As it is now Hendricks Motorsports seems to be the most likely ride for Jones. After having made the playoffs two out of the last three seasons, Jones should be able to slot right into the No. 48 car and give them a fourth competitive team.

Interestingly enough, both Jones and Johnson retain the same attorney in Alan Miller. With Jones’s lawyer having so much familiarity with the Hendricks organization, it should certainly help give him a leg up in contract negotiations. With the retirement of Jimmie Johnson following the end of this season, Hendricks will already have the youngest stable of the major cup series teams. Adding Jones would make Bowman the oldest driver of the group at just 27 years of age.

Chip Gannasi Racing

Probably the least talked about option but an underrated possibility nonetheless. With Larson now fully out of the picture, Chip is going to be scouting for a new driver with the satisfactory skills behind the wheel. Jones would be a fine transition selection to take over that No. 42 ride for the foreseeable future. That is if Chip can offer Jones an attractive enough proposal. If they cannot find a suitable replacement Kenseth could return for another season. Given the time off and having no opportunities to practice, it’s fair to say Kenseth has been serviceable. Kurt Busch will be in the last year of a multi-year contract, filling that second ride for Chip Gannasi in 2021

Check us out on our socials:

Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk
Instagram: @ptsportstalk

Follow Dale Money on Twitter @packerd_00

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Leave a Reply