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Erik Jones’ career path has gone the same way as he drives: fast

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After winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2015, Erik Jones figured he’d spend two or three years in the Xfinity Series before eventually moving up to the NASCAR Cup Series.

After all, what was the rush? He’s only 20 years old.

But as it turned out, that two-to-three year gameplan in Xfinity that Joe Gibbs Racing had in mind was quickly reduced to just one year, the 2016 campaign.

Now, Jones finds himself in NASCAR’s premier series, driver of the No. 77 Toyota Camry and teammates with veteran Martin Truex Jr. at Furniture Row Racing.

Not only is this Jones’ first season in NASCAR Cup, it’s also Furniture Row’s first year as a two-car team. Up to this point over the last decade-plus, the Denver, Colorado-based FRR has been only a single-car team.

And with Monday’s announcement of a new points format and three stages in a race starting this season, Jones’ rookie season may be a bit more difficult than he anticipated because he may have to change his aggressive driving style somewhat.

“All throughout my career, I’ve been an all or nothing, checkers or wreckers driver,” Jones said Tuesday during the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte. “I think it’s definitely different this year.

“You have to rack up those points. The more bonus points you have, the better chance you have to make it to Homestead.”

Jones is the first graduate, so to speak, of the Toyota driver development program to reach the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“When I joined KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) in 2013, Toyota was heavily invested into our sport but they didn’t have a driver development program like now,” Jones said. “It was me and Darrell Wallace. People forget. Toyota did a lot for me and has for me.”

Teaming with Truex will be valuable to Jones as he tries to learn the ropes of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“I think Martin will be a great teammate,” Jones said. “For Furniture Row it will be so beneficial to have two cars at the track. That one extra car is pretty important. It should be good.

“… I think it’s going to be an exciting season with a new group of guys. It’s a team that’s really on the rise and is growing.”

One of the biggest personal challenges for Jones will be a rivalry with another young driver who was the Cup Series’ Rookie of the Year last season, Chase Elliott.

“I guess there sort of was that at the Late Model level,” Jones said. “We raced each other so much. I don’t know if it will carry to the Cup series. We weren’t wrecking; we just raced hard and were upset if we lost. Neither wanted to lose to each other.

“We felt we were competing against each other, trying to burst onto the NASCAR scene. It’d be good if we are running up front and running together (this season).”

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Kyle Busch wins pole for Truck Series race at Atlanta

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Kyle Busch won the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his second Truck Series pole at the track.

Driving his No 4. Toyota, Busch put down a top speed of 179.743 mph.

Matt Crafton qualified second with a speed of 179.220 mph.

“My lap was pretty good, certainly felt more stuck (to the track) the first time around than the second time around,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “We even picked up a little bit of time on that second one. … We were really, really tight here last year and made some good changes to it through the offseason with notes and things and coming back here better prepared.”

The top five is completed by Noah Gragson (179.214), Spencer Davis (178.862) and Justin Haley (178.775).

Gragson and Davis give Kyle Busch Motorsports three of the first four starting spots.

Johnny Sauter, who won last week at Daytona, will start ninth.

Busch’s pole is his second of the weekend. He also won the pole for Sunday’s Cup Series race.

The Active Pest Control 200 begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Christopher Bell on Xfinity pole at Atlanta

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Rookie Christopher Bell qualified first for Saturday’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 181.176-mph lap in his No. 20 Toyota.

it’s the second pole in 10 starts for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Joey Logano was second in his No. 22 Ford, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Kevin Harvick.

Click here for the Xfinity Series qualifying results and click here for the Xfinity lineup by row.

The Xfinity race will start at 2:16 p.m. ET, starting a doubleheader with the truck series at Atlanta.

Sunday’s Atlanta race moved to 1:06 p.m. ET start with threat of weather

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HAMPTON, Georgia – The threat of inclement weather has moved up the start of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway by an hour.

NASCAR announced Saturday morning that the green flag will fall on the second race of the 2018 season at 1:06 p.m. ET.

Races become official after the second stage. The second stage of Sunday’s 500-mile race will end on Lap 170 of 325.

The wunderground.com site calls for an 80 percent chance of rain Sunday with the forecast worsening from 10 a.m.

Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson top list of drivers docked practice

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both will be held during the final Cup Series practice Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Because his No. 78 Toyota failed to clear prequalifying inspection three times Friday, Truex will miss the final 30 minutes of the 80-minute session that will begin at noon ET. Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet will be out for the last 15 minutes because it failed the new Optical Scanning Station twice.

Harrison Rhodes also will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding Jr., Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt each will miss 15 minutes because they were late to qualifying inspection.

NASCAR changed its policy on how practice holds will be conducted this season. Instead of serving the penalty in the pits at the start of the session, drivers will park their cars for the length of the penalty up until the end of the session.