Erik Jones to run full NASCAR Trucks and part-time XFINITY Series schedules in 2015

Leave a comment

We’re set to see a lot more of Erik Jones in the near-future.

The 18-year-old, who has ran part-time programs the last two seasons for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will drive full-time for KBM next year. Additionally, Jones will also run a part-time NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I feel like my success at KBM the last two seasons has opened the door to this opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series and I’m grateful for what everyone at Toyota, KBM and JGR has done to help make this possible,” Jones said in a statement.

“JGR has collected 100 wins in the series and I’m ready to take what I’ve learned in just a handful of races this year and be able to go out next year and help them bring home more victories.

“When you add the experience I will gain in the XFINITY Series to the 23-race Truck Series schedule, I’ll be gaining valuable seat time in the best equipment as I continue to climb the ladder in NASCAR and I couldn’t be more thankful to be where I am so early in my career.”

Lots of information regarding both of  Jones’ efforts – a truck number and sponsor in the Truck Series, plus total number of races, crew chief, car number and sponsors in the XFINITY Series – will be announced later.

But what we do know is that Ryan “Rudy” Fugle will serve as crew chief for Jones in the Trucks. Fugle currently works as a race engineer, but last year, he was the CC for KBM’s No. 51 team in its run to the series’ owner’s championship and for Jones’ first series win last fall at Phoenix International Raceway (which made Jones the youngest NASCAR national series event winner ever).

“Rudy and I have developed a great relationship the last few years and we’re going to have a quality team with a lot of familiar faces around us,” Jones added. “I’m confident that I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned running a part-time schedule the last two seasons and be able to go out and challenge for wins week in and week out and be a contender for the [Truck Series] championship next season.”

Jones has done well in his part-time role for KBM with three wins (including one this year at Las Vegas), six Top-5s, and 12 Top-10s in 20 Truck Series starts across 2013 and 2014. He’s also made a pair of Nationwide Series starts this year for JGR, finishing seventh at Chicago and eighth at Bristol.

This weekend at Phoenix, Jones will take part in both of those series. He’ll drive KBM’s No. 51 Toyota Tundra in the Truck Series race Friday night, then drive the No. 20 JGR Toyota Camry in Saturday’s 200-miler for the Nationwide Series.

After eating just one chip, NHRA drag racer says: ‘I seriously thought I was going to die’

Alex Laughlin official Instagram page
Leave a comment

Editor’s note: Due to rain, Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals have been postponed to Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET. In the meantime, check out this rather unusual tale:

Remember the old Lays Potato Chips commercial from back in the 1980s that bragged “No one can eat just one”?

Well, ask NHRA Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin and a few members of his team, and they’ll tell you they learned a very valuable lesson that there indeed IS a chip that you can only eat one of.

According to NHRA’s National Dragster, Laughlin and Elite Motorsports crew members Chase Freeman, Kelly Murphy and Brian Cunningham took part Friday night in the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

If you haven’t heard of the Challenge, Paqui Chips has produced a tortilla chip that the company boldly claims is the hottest chip ever made anywhere in the world. The secret is the “Carolina Reaper” pepper, considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a rating of 1.9 million Scoville units, according to PuckerButt Pepper Company.

How hot is 1.9 million Scoville units? Let’s put it this way: the Devil might even have a hard time taking this kind of heat. By comparison, a Jalapeno pepper only reaches 10,000 units on the Scoville rating. 

So while they were enjoying some downtime Friday night after the first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (suburban Charlotte), Laughlin and Co. paid $30 for one chip – you read that right, $30 for one chip, it’s THAT hot – and thought they could take the heat.

They thought wrong.

“This is the hottest chip in the world,” Laughlin said on an Instagram post that documented the entire experience, adding a warning, “What to expect: Mouth on fire, short-term loss of speech, impaired vision from tears, extreme profanity — or death.”

View this post on Instagram

Never. Ever. Again.

A post shared by Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughlin40) on

 

Laughlin’s post also includes several reader comments that Laughlin and his crew should have had milk on hand instead of water to try and cool things down because milk has a natural antidote to cool your mouth down after eating hot food.

Sunday morning, with his mouth and throat still a bit sore, Laughlin recalled the red-hot episode to National Dragster’s Kevin McKenna:

Never again. Never. Ever. Ever,” Laughlin told McKenna. “It was definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

One of our guys showed me a You Tube video and it looked like it wasn’t going to be too bad. I like spicy food and it’s usually never a problem. I’ve been to those places with hot wings where you have to sign a waiver before you eat them and that’s never been a problem.

But this? This is on a whole different level. I thought it might last ten minutes. Fourteen hours later, I was still in bad shape. I woke up at 3 a.m. and Googled “internal bleeding.” I seriously thought I was going to die. We all did.”

So if the heat from the chip was off the hotness Richter scale, where did the stunt rank on Laughlin’s own personal Richter scale?

I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.

Well, I really didn’t think it would be that bad,” Laughlin told McKenna with a shrug. “I mean, it’s just one tortilla chip. Like I said, I can usually eat stuff that other people won’t eat, but I had no idea what I was in for.

“I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.”

If you’re up for another challenge in the future that involves eating hot food, Alex, here’s a suggestion: Even though it’s a few years old now, maybe you should try the Ice Bucket Challenge (but fill it with milk) to cool down quick. Just a thought.

Follow @JerryBonkowski