Erik Jones Secures Season-Best Finish Amid Contract Talks


Erik Jones prepares for a race at Dover International Speedway.

The driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro turned in his best performance of the year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Erik Jones, who is in his first season with the NASCAR team, avoided incidents during a carnage-filled final stage and locked up seventh place overall.

This outing served as a high-water mark for Jones and the No. 43 team. He entered the weekend at Indianapolis with a 10th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7 and a ninth-place finish in the March 29 dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jones had been on a seven-race streak of finishes outside the top 15, but he bounced back in a major way at Indianapolis.

The driver of the No. 43 will now move forward with his sights set on an even better outing at his home track. Jones will make his eighth Cup Series start at Michigan International Speedway and will try to surpass his third-place finish from 2017.

Jones has one other start at the two-mile oval in his career. He started second in the 2016 race while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and raced his way to a fourth-place finish while Daniel Suarez reached Victory Lane.

Jones Turned in a Strong Performance Amid Contract Talks

Erik Jones

GettyErik Jones practices at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Locking up seventh place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will provide Jones with confidence heading toward the final two regular-season races, but it will also potentially benefit him heading toward 2022. The driver of the No. 43 is currently engaged in talks to remain with RPM for another season.

According to Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass, Jones said that he “feels things are close to being done” for him to stick with the single-car team for the 2022 season. Pockrass also noted that Jones has expressed optimism about deals in the past only to see them fall through. The veteran reporter said that the NASCAR driver likely would not have made this statement if he didn’t feel good about his prospects.

According to “Cup Scene,” Jones signed with RPM in October 2020 after learning that Christopher Bell would replace him on the Joe Gibbs Racing roster. The announcement at the time indicated that the deal was for multiple years. However, Jones has spent the 2021 season uncertain about his future.

Jones Expressed Happiness About His Current Team Setup

The driver of the No. 43 previously addressed his situation during a trip to Road America on the Fourth of July weekend. He spoke to media members and explained that he enjoys being part of a single-car team after spending four seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I’m pretty happy right now at RPM, to be honest,” Jones told reporters on July 4, per Fox Sports Bob Pockrass. “It’s been a good experience for me just coming to a single-car group. It’s a great fit for me, it’s a great fit for Chevrolet. We have an RCR [Richard Childress Racing] alliance. I don’t know. I’m pretty happy right now at RPM.”

More than one month later, Jones still has the goal of returning to RPM for another year, albeit in the Next Gen car. He has yet to sign a new deal with the team, but he remains optimistic about his future. Based on the report from Pockrass, an announcement could take place in the near future and guarantee that Jones remains behind the wheel of the No. 43.

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