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July 30, 2022

Erik Jones to return to Petty GMS No. 43 team for 2023

Erik Jones on the grid at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Tim Nwachukwu
Getty Images

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Petty GMS Motorsports announced Saturday that Erik Jones will remain in the No. 43 Chevrolet with a newly signed multiyear deal.

News of the contract extension came before the start of Saturday’s on-track activity for the NASCAR Cup Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in preparation for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, IMS Radio, SiriusXM).

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Jones, 26, joined the Richard Petty-owned team in 2021. He remained as the driver of the iconic No. 43 when the organization grew to a two-car team this season, after a merger with Maury Gallagher’s GMS Racing operation. Saturday’s announcement keeps him in the fold for 2023 and beyond.

“It’s been a few years since I’ve really had a multiyear deal,” Jones said Saturday before Cup Series qualifying. “I’ve been kind of running out one-year deals for the last two or three years at this point in my career. And that’s not necessarily — something I kind of wanted to do is trying to find the right home, the right place where I was comfortable. So I finally found somewhere where I feel like I’m happy and feel like we’re growing and heading the right way. Petty GMS and Maury came to me with a multiyear offer, and I thought that was something that was going to be good for all of us. So, just happy to get it done.”

Jones said he officially signed the contract last Sunday morning, pre-race at Pocono Raceway. He said he’d entertained the idea of timing the announcement for next weekend at Michigan International Speedway in his home state, but opted against delaying the long-expected move.

“It was something that I think everybody kind of knew was going to happen, so it wasn’t going to be a big shock,” Jones said. “So I felt like today, it was a good day to do it.”

Jones is a two-time winner in Cup Series competition, prevailing at two of the sport’s most historic venues — Daytona International Speedway (2018) and Darlington Raceway (2019). He made his 200th Cup Series start in June at Nashville Superspeedway.

Jones began his career in the Toyota pipeline of prospects, famously attracting the eye of Kyle Busch as he competed in Late Models. He later brought Busch’s Camping World Truck Series team a championship in 2015, collecting seven victories in a three-year span.

The Michigan native joined the Cup Series full time in 2017 for Furniture Row Racing, which was then an affiliate of Joe Gibbs Racing. He soon shifted to JGR’s No. 20 team, where he remained for three seasons before being replaced by Christopher Bell.

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Jones wound up 24th in the series standings last season, scoring six top-10 finishes. This season has marked a year of modest improvement — Jones is 18th in the Cup Series points, with seven top 10s and two top fives to date.

Petty’s team had operated as a single-car operation since 2017. This year’s expansion brought in Gallagher as a co-owner and Ty Dillon as a teammate, driving the No. 42 — another car number dear to the Petty family’s legacy.

The team previously announced that Dillon would not return to the No. 42 Chevrolet next year. With that ride open, Jones said he’s had some feedback for team officials on who might fill the seat.

“They kind of asked me what I thought about future drivers and gave them a few names and guys who I thought deserved an opportunity and could make good use of it, would be good teammates, good team players,” Jones said. “And so, I think they’re kind of going through that and getting down to it, right. Getting around ready to make a decision and getting close on it. So we’ll see. Like I said, I think they’re close on that one as well. I think they’ll have something there to announce hopefully soon, but they did give me some input on that.”