Erik Jones, Kyle Busch to split Truck ride
January 24, 2014, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
Jones to drive in 12 races, Busch takes 10; Wallace Jr. expected to return
The youngest winner in the history of NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series will have plenty of chances to add to his growing resume in 2014.
Erik Jones, the 17-year-old who became the circuit's youngest winner by prevailing last fall at Phoenix, will share a Truck Series ride this season at Kyle Busch Motorsports with the team owner, the organization announced Friday. Busch and Jones will split the No. 51 truck, the vehicle that won the owners' championship in the series last year.
Jones is slated to be behind the wheel for 12 races in the vehicle, including the dirt-track race at Eldora Speedway. Busch will drive in 10, including the Feb. 21 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. ToyotaCare returns as primary sponsor and will adorn the hood of the No. 51 for 14 races, seven with each driver.
KBM is also expected to once again field the No. 54 truck of Darrell Wallace Jr., who last fall at Martinsville Speedway became the second African-American driver to win a national-series event in NASCAR. Wallace, 20, finished eighth in final series points in 2013.
Jones made history last November at Phoenix when at 17 years, five months and nine days old he led a race-high 84 laps en route to becoming the youngest winner in Truck Series history. The Phoenix win was the culmination of a five-race schedule which saw the youngster finish inside the top 10 in each of his outings, including a ninth-place finish in his debut in March at Martinsville, where he became the first 16-year-old to start a Truck Series event since Busch in 2001.
"I really learned a lot last year from Kyle and everyone at KBM," Jones said. "I felt like each time out we all grew as a team and at the end of the season I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream by winning in one of NASCAR's top three divisions. Going into this season, I feel like we have a great chance to get back to Victory Lane and go out and defend our owner's championship."
In addition to his Truck Series schedule, Jones made three starts behind the wheel of KBM's No. 51 super late model in 2013, winning the Winchester 400 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in October, and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. in December. The racing prodigy also earned his first ARCA Racing Series victory in August at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway driving for Venturini Motorsports.
"Erik did a tremendous job for us last year picking up wins in both the truck and the super late model while running a very limited schedule," Busch said. "At just 17 years old, he shows a lot of poise behind the wheel, provides great feedback to the crew chiefs and he has already proven that he can win on some of the biggest stages."
Crew chief Eric Phillips, a 27-time winner in the Truck Series, will call the shots for the No. 51 team in 2014. Jones' first race in the vehicle will be at Martinsville on March 29.