Less than a week after announcing it would end its one-year partnership with Mopar/Dodge, Elite Motorsports will end another partnership, as well.
Crew chief Rickie Jones, who led Elite and drive Erica Enders to the NHRA Pro Stock championships in 2014 and 2015, will step back from his role in 2017.
Jones said the reason is to spend more time with his family.
“My wife Sarah and I want to start a family and have children,” the 29-year-old Rickie Jones said in a media release. “That’s harder to do when you’re gone as much as this series demands.
“I’ve been blessed way beyond my wildest dreams to work with Erica and (team owner) Richard Freeman and the entire Elite team, and I’ll still do that to a degree. But family comes first, and I look forward to spending a lot more time with Sarah as we start this new chapter in our lives.”
The younger Jones was a pivotal component in Enders’ combined 15 wins in 2014 (six) and 2015 (nine). Unfortunately, a switch to Dodge/Mopar in 2016 did not yield similar results; in fact, Enders and teammate and five-time Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. failed to win even one race.
Jones’ father, crew chief and chassis builder Rick Jones, will remain with the team in 2017.
The younger Jones may be leaving Elite Motorsports as a crew chief, but he’ll still be involved, working at RJ Race Cars and Quarter-Max Chassis and Racing Components in Galesburg, Ill., the companies he and his father own.
RJ Race Cars builds the race cars Elite Motorsports uses in NHRA, as well as several other cars for a variety of customers. Jones also pointed to a recent surge in demand for Street Rods and other custom work.
“Rickie has been an invaluable member of Elite Motorsports for many years, and we fully support his decision,” Freeman said. “Elite Motorsports isn’t just a race team, it’s a family, and Rickie and Sarah are a part of that family. We all wish him nothing but the best.”
Freeman said there are no plans to replace the younger Jones. Existing crew chiefs Rick Jones, Mark Ingersoll and Brian “Lump” Self will lead the three-car team in 2017.