Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

2020 Cup Series Season Preview: Erik Jones

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.

Age: 23

Years in Cup: Four

Career Wins: Two

Accomplishments: 2015 NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series Champion

Erik Jones punched his ticket into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the second straight year in 2019 by scoring the biggest win of his young career – the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington. Shortly thereafter, his plans for 2020 were secured when Joe Gibbs Racing announced that he would be returning to the cockpit of the No. 20 for the upcoming season.

“I’m excited to be staying with Joe Gibbs Racing and the 20 team and to continue the success that we have built over the last two years in the Cup Series. I put my heart and soul into this and this race team,” Jones said in a team release at the time.

“This is my living and how I want to make a career and what I want to do. I’ve been racing with JGR since 2014 and it’s really cool to be able to continue with the foundation we’ve built over the years and hopefully win more races and contend for championships together.

Jones has been extremely consistent over the past two seasons, scoring a win in both 2018 and 2019 to make it to the Playoffs, but falling out in the first round of eliminations and finishing the year ranked 15th and 16th in points, respectively.

Along with his wins, Jones has scored 19 top-five finishes and 35 top-10 finishes since moving to the No. 20 team.

However, just skating by at a team with the caliber at JGR will only carry a driver so far, especially with other standout talents waiting in the wings in the Toyota driver development pipeline, so 2020 will be an important year for Jones and his team to take that next step forward and prove he belongs in the JGR stable with two former Cup champions.

Given the success that JGR as a whole was able to have in 2019, Jones should be able to equal or best his previous performance in the season ahead. If he is able to do just that, he could be right in the mix with his teammates making a deeper run into the postseason.

“Erik has accomplished so much in our sport already and yet, he really is just at the start of a long career,” said Joe Gibbs. “He’s been a part of Joe Gibbs Racing for almost his entire professional career and we’re excited to see what the future holds for him.”

“All of us at Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) are thrilled to have Erik extend his relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 20 Camry,” added David Wilson, president of TRD, U.S.A.

“Erik has been a part of the family since 2013 and we’ve been fortunate to see him advance and develop as a race car driver and a person. From a Truck Series champion to a Playoff contender and race winner in the Cup Series, we’re honored to be a part of his journey. Without a doubt, we know his recent Cup Series success is just the beginning of what is sure to be many more wins and championship-contending seasons to come.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.