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.

Will Power nips Jack Harvey at finish to pace Road America practice

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Will Power led the only IndyCar Road America practice of the weekend Saturday, shooting to the top of the chart on his 22nd and final lap of the session at 1 minute, 46.0021 seconds in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet.

Dixon knocked Jack Harvey’s No. 60 Dallara-Honda from the top spot (which would have marked the first time that a Meyer-Shank Racing car led practice).

Josef Newgarden, Power’s Team Penske teammate, was third, followed by Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay (who went off course late in the session but sustained no damage).

Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Graham Rahal, defending race winner Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top 10 in the practice that preceded a Saturday-Sunday race weekend doubleheader for IndyCar at Road America.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Click here to see who was fastest in the session

RACE INFORMATION: What you need to know for today’s REV Group Grand Prix

RATED ROOKIE: Rinus VeeKay rebounding well from a tough debut

IndyCar tested some new cooling devices with cars from Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. Several drivers have said the cockpit heat caused by the new aeroscreen was stifling during last week’s GMR Grand Prix, and IndyCar repositioned drink bottles this weekend to keep liquids cool. The pieces tried by IndyCar during the Road America practice won’t be available during the races Saturday and Sunday at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course.

Scott Dixon, who is seeking to open the season with his third consecutive IndyCar victory, was 15th fastest in the 75-minute session. Other notables in Road America practice: Marco Andretti (12th), Simon Pagenaud (19th).

Power is aiming for his second consecutive pole position after qualifying first last week on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Qualifying for the REV Group Grand Prix Race #1 will take place at 2:15 p.m. ET (NBCSNNBC Sports Gold).

The broadcast of the IndyCar race at Road America will begin at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.