By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Joey Logano and Erik Jones share an odd bond in their captivating NASCAR careers and that’s being ousted by Joe Gibbs Racing.
Logano was replaced by Matt Kenseth at the end of the 2012 season and landed a home with Team Penske where he won a Daytona 500 and a Cup Series title since. Meanwhile, Jones is about to be replaced by Christopher Bell next season and yet to find a ride.
During Wednesday’s portion of NASCAR Playoffs Media Day, Logano went into greater detail about his discussion with Jones following the comments he made on the NBCSN pre-race show where the decision to go with Bell was blindsiding for the Michigan native.
"I was blindsided a little bit."@Erik_Jones' time with Joe Gibbs Racing will end after this season. Jones talked about what he's working on over the next few weeks for 2021. pic.twitter.com/i1EdiPbdXr
— #NASCARPlayoffs on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) August 9, 2020
Once Logano heard Jones’ comments from his motor home, he reached out to the 24-year-old about the scary similarities he dealt with when he got the boot from JGR.
“I was sitting in my bus and he was with Marty Snider and the question was asked about next year and what it was and I said, ‘Oh, my God. I remember this.’ It just came rushing back and I was like, ‘Oh, this poor kid,'” Logano on Jones’ comments back in August.
“So I texted him on the way home on the airplane and said, ‘Hey, man. I’ve been where you’ve been before. If you need someone to talk to about it, there aren’t many people who can understand exactly what you’re going through right now. I’m here. If you want to talk about it, that’s great. If not, that’s fine, too.’”
Jones responded to Logano’s text message and had lunch to discuss about the ordeal. In that discussion, Jones asked Logano how his career changed after his tenure at JGR ended.
That’s when Logano realized how almost identical Jones’ story was, saying it does feel awful being the odd man out of a successful multi-car team. More so, when they have that bond of climbing up the NASCAR ladder due to their instant success at a very young age.
“Hearing his whole story is scary how similar it is, like it is almost identical the way he was brought up racing, the way he was at Gibbs. It was almost identical,” said Logano. “That being said, you can’t tell the future and know where he’s gonna go next and that it’s all gonna be great and it be the best thing that ever happened to him, but I did say that God put you in these positions a lot of times to make you stronger and grow you and direct you in the place He wants you to be.
“In the moment, you don’t know that. In the moment, it’s the worst. It’s awful. The stress and I remember thinking so many times that, ‘Oh my gosh, all I ever wanted to be was a race car driver. I put all my eggs in this basket and it’s coming to an end. What am I gonna do with my life?’ Those thoughts run through my mind and it’s kind of scary, it’s really scary if we’re being honest.”
If there’s one contrast of both men’s departure, it involves their fathers. Logano has had his father Tom Logano by his side when he had to find a new racing home while Jones’ dad Dave Jones, who has been instrumental of Erik’s career, passed away in 2016 from cancer.
From that perspective, Logano sees the difficulty of Jones going through silly season without an influencing person that wears the voice of reason cap like his father.
“It’s kind of hard to explain to some people because you’re still driving a race car for a living and it’s not that bad in comparison to what a lot of people have to go through, but it’s still something that’s challenging and doing that without your dad there for him,” said Logano. “That’s the guy he grew up racing with his family and his dad and I just couldn’t imagine doing that without him, so I just tried to speak some life into my situation and what can be for his. It doesn’t mean that he’s gonna win the championship three years from now like we were able to do.”
Time will tell where Jones ends up, but Logano hopes that things work out for him and certainly appreciates his maturity for his age, something Logano had to learn over time.
“Who knows what’s gonna happen, but I do know that it’s steering him down a direction that God is pointing him to be in. Like I said, it felt so similar that I had to say something and after talking to him it was crazy how close it was, so the whole situation all the way through was like, ‘Yep. I’ve been there.’ So it was kind of fun to talk to him and I hope something works out for him, I really do.”
“He seems to be a really good kid. I say kid, I sound like an old guy when I say that, but, young man, I guess. But he’s grown a lot already in a lot of the same ways that I have. I came in as a cocky, arrogant little kid that was gonna come in and beat everybody and then I realized that I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to do and him showing his humbleness to talk to me about that shows a lot of growth as well.”