Although he’s already run in a Sprint Cup race, Erik Jones will make his official series debut this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
The goal is quite simple, beginning with today’s two practices.
“Hopefully we can make long runs most of the day in race trim and just kind let me go and … get a feel for the car and see if I can pick up speed making laps, figure out how to drive the track, figure out how to adjust the car to make it a little bit better,’’ Jones said Friday morning.
Jones is driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota in place of injured Kyle Busch this weekend. He’s also competing in the Camping World Truck Series event at Kansas for Kyle Busch Motorsports. This is Jones’ first time to race at this 1.5-mile speedway.
Jones reiterated that he only knows he’ll be in the car this weekend. Indications are that Busch, who has driven a Late Model lately, could return for next weekend’s Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
If so, this could mark Jones’ one and only Cup start, although it is his second race. He relieved Denny Hamlin last month at Bristol when Hamlin suffered neck spasms and did not return to the car after a lengthy rain delay. Jones drove the car to a 26th-place finish.
Should this be his last Cup run of the season, it still gives Jones a chance to race against Jeff Gordon, who is in his final full season in the series.
“That’s pretty cool,’’ Jones said of being able to race Gordon. “Honestly I never thought I’d get the opportunity. At the beginning of the year when he said he was retiring, I’m like, ‘Man, that’s kind of a bummer for me because I’m not going to get to race against him.’
“Now that I’m getting that shot I hope I can go out and race against him at some point. I was a big Jeff Gordon fan growing up and always had all his stuff. I know at Bristol he was lapping me, I wish I could I could have been racing him. It was still pretty cool to see him run on the track and be side by side with him for a minute.’’