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Jones to make Nationwide debut at Chicagoland

June 19, 2014, Staff report,

NASCAR Next driver will run three Nationwide races for Joe Gibbs Racing

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Erik Jones will be moving up for a few races as he will make his first career Nationwide Series start at Chicagoland Speedway next month.

The 18-year-old Jones will be behind the wheel of the No. 20 car on July 19 at Chicagoland.

In an interview on SiriusXM Speedway, Jones announced that he would be running three Nationwide Series races with Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20 car. Besides Chicagoland, Jones will also run the No. 20 car at Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 22) and Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 8).

Jones later shared the news on Twitter.

Jones is just the latest driver to be announced to get seat time in the No. 20 Toyota for JGR. This season has seen Matt Kenseth behind the wheel for nine Nationwide races and Sam Hornish Jr., Michael McDowell, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Suarez have each driven the car for one race.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to run some Nationwide races this year with Joe Gibbs Racing," Jones said in a release. "Since I wasn't able to run a full season this year, adding to my Truck Series schedule was something I've been working hard on."

Jones later added in the release that he has "high expectations for all three races."

Currently, the NASCAR Next driver is sharing the No. 51 Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Kyle Busch.

On SiriusXM Speedway, Jones said that despite the slow start to his 2014 season (in three starts, he has a best finish of 11th place, which came at Texas), he felt like the team turned the corner at Gateway.

"Unfortunately, we've had a little bit of bad luck in the (Camping World) Truck Series and then one where we just weren't on our game. It hasn't gone quite like we'd hoped this year, but Gateway was definitely a big step for us. It does make me feel good that I got this opportunity and really felt like we accomplished something in the Truck Series to make it happen.

"Being in the Nationwide Series, it's really such another level, but it's one that I've been wanting to get on now for so long. It's a series that you look at as definitely the next step on the development ladder. To have my opportunity and my shot at going out there and running those races with those guys is pretty special."

In eight career Truck Series starts, Jones has one victory, two top-10 finishes and five top-10 finishes. His first win came at Phoenix last November when he became the youngest winner in Truck Series history at 17 years old.


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