Jones looking for change of fortunes

Image by LaBounty/LAT

Jones looking for change of fortunes


Jones looking for change of fortunes


There is good news, bad news inside the Joe Gibbs Racing camp.

The good news is that the organization has been fast and furious through the first nine Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, going to victory lane six times. JGR leads the series in that category as the only other team to have won, Team Penske, has three wins between two drivers.

The bad news is that Gibbs has won all those races with just three of its four drivers. Erik Jones is the one left with a goose egg, but believes he can join his teammates in the win column. However, it’s going to take better execution from the No. 20 Stanley team.

“I think speed-wise, we’re there,” Jones said. “Bristol and Texas, I felt like we had cars that could have won. Bristol, we had a loose wheel that put us out of it, a couple of loose wheels. Then Texas, strategy just didn’t work out at the end for us.

“I feel like we’re there, we just need to execute and work out some other issues that we have. Speed-wise and handling-wise, I feel like our cars are plenty capable. Going to Dover, I think we’ll be fast again and even this weekend we should have a good shot. So, we’re there, we just have some other issues to iron out.”

Jones is 17th in the point standings with three top-10 finishes. Kyle Busch leads the points with Denny Hamlin third and Martin Truex Jr., who is the most recent Cup Series winner, sits sixth.

Watching the success of others might be harder on Jones if he didn’t have the speed. Knowing he’s just as fast as the other three JGR cars and has the same equipment keeps Jones confident.

“It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like you have cars that are capable of winning and you’re not doing it,” Jones said. “When you have fast cars, it’s going to go your way eventually. If you have the speed and you have the car to do it, everything else will come along with that. With a good team like JGR, everybody is able to work together and put the pieces in that we need to have.”

With one win (July of ’18 at Daytona) in 84 Cup Series starts, Jones has been living in a mentally different world since moving to Cup in 2017. Having won races hand over first in the Gander Outdoors Truck and Xfinity Series, the 22-year-old knew going Cup racing meant wins weren’t going to come easy.

But it’s still been a shock to experience just how tough it is, and Jones said it’s hard to put into perspective what a jump from Xfinity to Cup is like. Jones has seven wins in 42 Truck starts, and nine Xfinity Series wins in 77 starts.

“It’s tough,” Jones said. “You get used to winning so much coming up you just have to really change your mindset – it’s just so much tougher. You have to relearn kind of everything you know and learn to race with these guys and learn how to win at this level. It’s not easy.

“The wins, you have to be perfect, you can’t make any mistakes, you can’t have anything go wrong and it’s tough to have those days. For me, it’s knowing that I’m with a good team and with a good group and knowing that the wins are going to come, and I feel like this year, honestly, we’ve had some of the fastest cars we’ve had in the last couple of years we just haven’t been able to execute on it. We just got to go out and make it go around and get those wins.

“I think once we get one we’ll reel off a few of them.”