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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Jones brings quiet demeanor, big results to rookie year

Erik Jones

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RELATED: More on Jones

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Erik Jones would be the first to tell you he is not high drama, flash-and-dash. Instead, the 20-year old Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie prefers a more workmanlike, low-key approach to his high-profile job.

And his rise up the standings this season reflects the rewards of that method.

The Furniture Row Racing driver heads to the always-exciting Bristol Motor Speedway bullring this weekend ranked 14th with a season-best eighth-place finish at Phoenix last month and five top-15 finishes through seven races.

RELATED: Full series standings

"I don't usually have a lot to say most of the time," Jones said of his reserved demeanor during a test at Daytona International Speedway last week. "I always feel we have a job when we come to the race track, we know what we're supposed to do."

His quiet manner with reporters is in sharp contrast to the noise he’s been making on track as a new Monster Energy Series driver in a new car -- the No. 77 Toyota Camry -- with a first-year crew chief in Chris Gayle.

Jones said he hasn't necessarily sought out anyone from last year's rookie class for advice on his maiden premier series season, instead just kind of put his head down and gone about his business. It's certainly worked before for him.

"I don't hang out with the other drivers too much," Jones said smiling. "I kind of do my own thing. I show up at the race track to do my job and that's kind of always how it's been. I've always lived the by the mentality that you bring your friends to the race track with you."

And so Jones' friends must be impressed.

He has patiently and methodically worked forward in his debut season in NASCAR's big leagues -- improving each week in some aspect of competition. But then again, success is not new to him.

MORE: Jones on his late father: 'I definitely think he's proud'

He won the Camping World Truck Series championship at the age of 19 in his first full season of competition and finished fourth last year in the XFINITY Series championship in his only full year competing there. Clearly, Jones' progress reflects both his quiet confidence and his great natural ability.

He considers the eighth-place showing at Phoenix (where he has a pair of Truck Series wins) the best full weekend he's had so far in the Monster Energy Series and the top-10 has given him a healthy dose of assurance.

"We just worked our way forward all day," Jones recalled of that race. "We didn't qualify that great, but we worked our way forward. We were running fifth with about 20 laps to go and if not for that late caution, I think we would have finished there. That was a day where I definitely felt good about it.

"Fontana (Auto Club Speedway) was another one. We consistently ran fourth to fifth to six all day long and then got a penalty late on the last (pit) stop. Those two races were really good for us as a team and races where I felt I had the speed to go up and be really competitive."

Jones has certainly established a pattern of high expectations collecting a truly remarkable 43 top-10 finishes in 63 XFINITY Series starts (entering Bristol) -- a measure of 68 percent.

RELATED: Jones wins at Texas in XFINITY | All his XFINITY stats

Specifically, he has had great success at Bristol, starting from the pole position in three of his four XFINTY Series starts. He won from the pole position there last spring (and scored the Dash 4 Cash prize for that race) and has three top-10 finishes. He also has a strong XFINITY Series record at next week’s venue, Richmond International Raceway, with three top-five finishes, including a runner-up in the XFINITY Series race there last fall.

"I would say performance-wise other than last week at Texas (22nd in the Monster Energy Series race), I've been really happy with where we've run," Jones said. "We've run consistently in the top 10 at Phoenix, Fontana and Atlanta but we just didn't get the finishes we deserved.

"Either way I look at it, we've done as good a job as we can and we brought fast race cars to the track. We're just learning more about how to execute, how to close these races out, and how to get the finishes we feel like we are capable of."

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