After running a partial schedule the past two seasons, Erik Jones is set to chase after his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
“It’s a great opportunity with KBM and everybody involved there,” Jones told OnPitRoad.com. “We’ve had a lot of success over the past couple of years and to be able to run full time and chase the championship is going to be pretty fun. We’ve got a great couple of guys with Rudy (Fugle) being the crew chief and kind of the same guys that we’ve had the past couple of years. Definitely a good group of guys and one that I’m looking forward to working with here for the full season.”
In the 17 career starts that he has made over the past two years, Jones has scored four wins, seven top-fives and 13 top-10s. Based on that success, Jones has been named the pre-season favourite as someone who could dethrone Matt Crafton as the series champion.
“I think that’s the ultimate goal to try and be the champion at the end of the year,” he said. “But at the same time, we’d like to go out and win five or six races this year. I really believe that we can go out and do that. The trucks have been fast the past two years, and if that continues we can go out and do that.”
During that time, it was all about trying to win run up front and make a name for himself Now switching gears on a full-time, Jones says that his thought process isn’t going to change as he’s not the driver to go out and points race.
“I just kind of go out with the same mentality that I would every week, and that’s to go out and win races and do the best that I can,” he commented. “I think if you go to the track like that trying to win the race, most times you’ll end up finishing well and that’s kind of what we did last year. Sometimes it bites back and you get caught up in a wreck or something, but at the same time, those wins make up a lot. I think we’re going to go to the track with the same mentality and just try to win races.”
Going into the year, there’s excitement to get to tracks that he has had success at before, like Phoenix and Las Vegas, but Jones is also excited for the chance to visit Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time.
“I think that’s going to be pretty cool,” he commented. “That’s a track that I’ve always liked to watch especially growing up and seeing guys run there. To have my chance to run there is going to be pretty neat.”
On top of chasing after the Truck Championship, Jones will run some XFINITY races for Joe Gibbs Racing. While he admits it’s going to be busy, he feels that they have mapped out the schedule well between the two teams.
“We tried to avoid a lot of the high-paced double weekends, and I think we did a good job where a double wouldn’t be too tedious,” he explained. “So that’s a pretty cool opportunity for me to run over there with Joe Gibbs and have an expanding relationship there that hopefully moves on into the future in the next couple of years. I think the main focus is to try and win a championship, but at the same time, we want to win races in the XFINITY Series. So the truck series always come first in race weekends, even race order. We ran on Friday in the trucks, Saturday in the XFINITY, so I don’t see why I would lose any focus on the truck series racing XFINITY at the same time. It should be fun going back and forth.”
Throughout his career so far, Jones has showed that he is determined to get the job done, no matter the vehicle, no matter the series. He attributes that to his never give up attitude as he says that you can’t give up at all in racing through the up and down roller coaster that you go through.
“You lose a lot more races than you win. If you look at anybody that has been racing long enough, they don’t have a winning record anywhere,” he commented. “So I think that’s the thing that I have to pay attention to. We’ve had a lot of success over the last few years and I’ve been fortunate enough to win some races and work with a lot of good people and equipment, but at the same time, if we get into a slump, you just got to know you’ll get back to that time that you were winning races again. there’s a lot of ups and downs and you just have to stay focused and stay moving forward.”