For those who might be wondering if Erik Jones took the seat from Matt Kenseth and inherited everything the No. 20 team had built at Joe Gibbs Racing, they’d be wrong. To start, Chris Gayle, who was the crew chief for Jones last year at Furniture Row, made the move to JGR. And this weekend in Bristol, Jones revealed the team is also relying on setups they became familiar with last season.
Yes, what Kenseth and Jason Ratcliff did with the No. 20 team last year could carry over, but Jones says he and Gayle are racing with what they learned during their ’17 rookie campaign.
“We share that information and we were able to lean back on a lot of that stuff and build off similar setups from that, and we’ve done the same thing here this weekend,” Jones said. “We started with a very similar setup to what we raced here in the fall last year and when you come to tracks like Bristol, honestly, setups are all pretty close.”
Kenseth finished fourth in both Bristol races a season ago. In the fall race, Jones earned his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole and led 260 laps on his way to a runner-up finish.
This weekend teammate Kyle Busch – who swept all three Bristol races in the summer –is on the pole. Daniel Suarez is starting 12th, Jones will line up 13th and Denny Hamlin in 25th. All four JGR cars are “pretty much laying on top of each other setup wise” noted Jones.
“It’s the way it is here for some reason,” he continued. “So, there was some stuff that we could lean back on and learn from [last year] and just different processes the engineers use that they used with Matt, and some things they did last year different than we did [at Furniture Row].
“It’s a new process in some ways of what we’re using to get these setups where we want to.”