Erik Jones 2023 landing spots: No. 3 – Joe Gibbs Racing
Given the fact that Joe Gibbs Racing and Erik Jones cut ties after several years — three in the NASCAR Cup Series — following the 2020 season, it’s hard to see the two parties reuniting anytime soon. But don’t think for one second that it is impossible.
It’s a well-known fact that Joe Gibbs Racing didn’t exactly want to let Jones go after the 2020 season, and Jones obviously had no intention of leaving. But with three of their four seats occupied by the veterans, the team ran the risk — which was more or less a guarantee — of losing prospect Christopher Bell if they retained Jones.
Bell was competing for Leavine Family Racing, which had a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. But Bob Leavine’s team shut down at the end of the 2020 season. Had Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota not been able to keep Bell, he surely would have ended up at a rival team and manufacturer.
As a result, that meant Jones had to find a new ride instead.
In 2023, Joe Gibbs Racing could be looking to find two replacements. Kyle Busch is uncertain about what his future holds, and while Martin Truex Jr.’s comments about his uncertain future didn’t get nearly the level of publicity that Busch’s did until recently, he also readily admits that a 2023 return isn’t a sure thing.
Even if only one of those two drivers ends up leaving the team after the 2022 season, Jones should be considered.
While many believe that the replacement would be Ty Gibbs, the grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs who currently competes in the Xfinity Series, Joe has made clear that the goal for Ty is to run two full Xfinity Series seasons before a Cup Series promotion. He is currently in his first.
Upon the departure of Busch and/or Truex, could Joe Gibbs Racing really justify not giving a much more well-rounded Jones a second look — or in this case, a second chance?