Car owner Joe Gibbs says that the organization plans to run Erik Jones full-time in the Xfinity Series next year along with select Sprint Cup races.
Gibbs made the comments Tuesday during an appearance on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The 19-year-old Jones, who relieved Denny Hamlin at Bristol and made his official Cup debut at Kansas in May while filling in for an injured Kyle Busch, has two wins and eight top-five finishes in 17 Xfinity starts this season. Jones ranks third in the Camping World Truck standings – 16 points behind series leader Tyler Reddick – with one win and seven top-five finishes in 12 races.
“We look at Erik as a big part of our future,’’ Gibbs said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ve got a plan laid out. The plan next year would be a full Xfinity season and try to run for a championship there and also, in all likelihood, have him in some Cup races. That would be the goal for next year.
“Then, we’ve got a plan laid out in the future, something we don’t want to talk about now. There is no question, Erik is headed for Cup and we’ve got a path charted that we think is the best to get him ready and to fulfill his goal of being in a Cup car as quick as we can get him there.’’
Gibbs’ plans for Jones next year appear to mirror to what car owner Rick Hendrick has done this year with Chase Elliott, the reigning Xfinity champion.
The 19-year-old Elliott, who will take over Jeff Gordon’s No. .24 ride next season in Cup, is running a full Xfinity schedule and select Cup races. Elliott made his Cup debut at Martinsville in March and also has run at Richmond, Charlotte and Indianapolis. He’s scheduled to make his final Cup start of the season at Darlington Raceway.
NASCAR limits organizations to running four cars full-time, but an organization can run a fifth car for up to seven races with a rookie driver.