Erik Jones will not return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021, the team announced Thursday night.
Jones, 24, is in the midst of his fourth full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series. He joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 after spending his rookie season with the now-defunct Furniture Row Racing. The two organizations had an alliance, and Jones moved into the No. 20 after his rookie campaign.
“I greatly appreciate the opportunity that JGR provided me with over the last four years and I wish the team nothing but success and good fortune,” Jones said in the team release. “JGR gave me a solid foundation from which to go out and compete at the highest level and I look forward to building on that in the years to come.”
The Michigan native has won two races in NASCAR’s premier series — at Daytona International Speedway in 2018 and at Darlington Raceway in 2019. His best finish in the final points standings was 15th in 2018. He came in 16th last season and currently ranks 18th with six races remaining in the 2020 regular season.
Jones’ 2020 contract was a one-year deal he signed late in the 2019 season.
“We appreciate all Erik has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over the past several years,” team owner Joe Gibbs said. “He joined us as a teenager and has accomplished so much in his time here and we remain focused on the remainder of this season and earning him a spot in the playoffs.”
Jones has been in the Toyota pipeline for eight years, getting his first national series start in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2013 with Kyle Busch Motorsports. In fact, Busch — a teammate to Jones at Joe Gibbs Racing — helped bring Jones in to the Toyota camp. Known for his eye for talent, Busch took note of Jones’ skill behind the wheel in a late model race in 2012. When Jones bested Busch to win the prestigious Snowball Derby months later as a 16-year-old, he found himself in the Gander Trucks series on a part-time basis the next season.
Jones would won the Gander Trucks championship in 2015, his first full-time season in that series. It called for a promotion to the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he won four races in 2016 — his lone full-time Xfinity Series season.
“Erik has been an incredible friend to Toyota throughout the last eight years,” said Ed Laukes, Group Vice President, Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “We’ve become close not only to Erik, but to his entire family. We’ve celebrated together, we’ve cried together and we’ve supported each other through it all. Unfortunately, the time has come that we have to part ways from a competitive standpoint. We know Erik will continue to do great things in this sport and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. We will certainly continue to follow his career and will be there to congratulate him as he continues to succeed.”