Today’s Richard Petty Motorsports preview continues NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, starting with new chartered teams then ranked in reverse order of best finish in last year’s owner standings.
RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS
Engine: ECR Engines
Driver-crew chief pairings: Erik Jones-Jerry Baxter (No. 43)
What’s new: The driver. Erik Jones makes the move to Richard Petty Motorsports after spending the last three seasons driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. For Jones, it will mark his first time driving a Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series. Jones will also have a new crew chief in Jerry Baxter, who returns to RPM for his second season. Baxter was a crew chief at Kyle Busch Motorsports when Jones won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title with Rudy Fugle, who is now at Hendrick Motorsports.
RELATED: RPM names Jones to No. 43
Team outlook: Richard Petty Motorsports is coming off its best finish in the standings, 22nd, since making the move in 2018 to Chevrolet and forming an alliance with Richard Childress Racing. The team will look to continue that momentum and grow the relationship with RCR with Jones behind the wheel. A top-20 finish in the standings would be the benchmark with the ultimate goal of returning the famed No. 43 to Victory Lane and to a playoff berth.
Racing Insights’ stats break: Erik Jones brings the No. 43 car something it hasn’t had in more than six years: a proven winner. Jones is a two-time winner in Cup and has more wins than any of the other six drivers Richard Petty Motorsports had employed since the start of the 2015 season. (Aric Almirola had one Cup win before moving to the No. 10 Stewart Haas Racing Ford and Regan Smith, who made only two starts for the team, also had one.) Jones made the playoffs two of the last three seasons. Richard Petty Motorsports’ last playoff driver was Aric Almirola in 2014.
Erik Jones, No. 43 Chevrolet
Experience: Fifth full season in NASCAR Cup Series
2020 stats: 17th in final standings; 0 wins, 9 top fives, 13 top 10s.
2020 final Fantasy Live ranking: 15th
2021 championship odds: 200-1
No. 43 history: See every driver
Outlook: There’s no doubt Jones has the capability to put RPM back in Victory Lane. The team has been close on occasion over the past few seasons, most notably at superspeedways where Jones has one career win. After being with a multi-car organization since his rookie year, Jones will get a fresh perspective with the move to a single-car team as something he’s looking forward to in his next chapter. He will become the 13th different driver to pilot the No. 43 since team owner Richard Petty retired from driving at the end of the 1992 season.
NASCAR.com 2021 team previews schedule
Jan. 18: 23XI Racing
Jan. 19: Trackhouse Racing Team
Jan. 20: Live Fast Motorsports
Jan. 21: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 22: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 25: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 26: Richard Petty Motorsports
Jan. 27: Roush Fenway Racing
Jan. 28: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 29: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 30: Non-chartered and teams outside the top 30
Feb. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing
Feb. 2: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 3: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 4: Team Penske
Feb. 5: Hendrick Motorsports