Erik Jones ‘working through an extension’ with Joe Gibbs Racing
Erik Jones told NBC Sports on Thursday that he and Joe Gibbs Racing are “working through an extension” for him to remain with the team and that he has “no plans to leave JGR.”
“I don’t think there’s any plans to change anything,” Jones said. “It’s just a matter of both sides agreeing to an agreement, which takes time. I imagine here soon we’ll have something ironed out.
“I think both sides are pretty set on staying on the path we got.”
The 22-year-old is in his third year in the Cup Series and his second at JGR after moving over from Furniture Row in 2017.
JGR did not respond to a request for comment on if 2019 was the last year on Jones’ contract.
Jones earned his first Cup win last July at Daytona, but hasn’t found victory lane this season. He’s coming off a fourth-place finish at Texas where he led 33 laps, his most since leading 64 laps in the same race last year.
“We’ve been pretty happy with the growth over the last couple of years, from my side and from the team’s side and what we’ve done and where we’re heading,” Jones said prior to the unveiling of his Craftsman ”Racing for a Miracle” car for this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I think we’re so close to breaking that little wall down of winning many races. We’re just right there, it seems, of making that big step to be consistent race winners. I feel like we’re right there. We’re close. Hopefully, here pretty soon it will be set in stone.”
The potential of a Jones’ extension raises questions about Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell’s future in the Cup Series after his second Xfinity season with JGR.
The organization recently announced Kyle Busch had agreed to a multi-year contract extension with the team and sponsor Mars Inc.
Martin Truex Jr. is only in his first year with JGR after coming over from the defunct Furniture Row Racing.
Denny Hamlin, who has two wins through seven races including his second Daytona 500, announced a contract extension in early 2017. He said last year on the Dale Jr. Download that 2018 was the first year on “a good long-term contract” and “that goes for a while.”
Bell, who won a Xfinity Series rookie-record seven races in 2018, said last year he felt he was ready for Cup.
In Cup, Toyota gives full support to just JGR and the one-car team of Leavine Family Racing, which replaced Furniture Row Racing when it closed.
But Leavine Family Racing felt it was prudent to go with veteran Matt DiBenedetto in the No. 95 in its first year with Toyota.
Team owner Bob Leavine said last year he planned to ask Toyota for an engine to be able to run Bell occasionally.
“That’s for them to decide,” Leavine said. “We’re just going to be available if they want to do it to put it all together and make it all work.”
David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, told NBC Sports last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, that “for the moment there is no plan, there’s no consideration to put Christopher in one of those (Cup) cars (this year).”
Wilson cited the extra work needed to put a car together for Bell this season but also added that “you never say never.”