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Joe Gibbs: Working to give Erik Jones, Christopher Bell ‘long-term’ place with team

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series - O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 31: Team owner Joe Gibbs celebrates with Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 31, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Joe Gibbs said Sunday it’s his team’s goal to ensure that Erik Jones and Christopher Bell both have “a place with us long‑term.”

Gibbs’ comments came three days after Jones told NBC Sports he was “working through an extension” with Joe Gibbs Racing.

With Jones in his third season in Cup and in a contract year, Jones’ statement raised questions about where and when Bell would compete in Cup.

“I think for us, you don’t comment much on the future other than to say Christopher has a place with us long‑term, and so does Erik,” Gibbs said after Sunday’s Cup race. “That’s our goal. That’s what we’ll keep working on. It’s great to have young people coming, young talent. It’s very important for us. We all know that.”

Bell, 24, won his 10th Xfinity race Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway. He is in his second full-time season in Xfinity with JGR.

But JGR only has four Cup cars and Jones is the only driver in a contract year. The only other Toyota-backed team is Leavine Family Racing, which fields Matt DiBenedetto in the No. 95.

Bell said Friday he never saw Jones’ seat in the No. 20 car as the one he would fill.

“If you look at the Gibbs camp now, I can’t picture anyone being my hole (to fill) because all four cars are running exceptional now,” Bell said. “Watch any of the races, all four are right in the top five. I don’t know where I’m going to land. I’m just enjoying the ride now.”