NASCAR Cup
NASCAR Cup
R
Daytona Clash
08 Feb
-
09 Feb
Next event in
21 days
08 Feb
-
16 Feb
Next event in
21 days
R
Las Vegas
21 Feb
-
23 Feb
Next event in
34 days
R
Fontana
28 Feb
-
01 Mar
Next event in
41 days
R
Phoenix
06 Mar
-
08 Mar
Next event in
48 days
R
Atlanta
13 Mar
-
15 Mar
Next event in
55 days
R
Homestead
20 Mar
-
22 Mar
Next event in
62 days
R
27 Mar
-
29 Mar
Next event in
69 days
R
Bristol
03 Apr
-
05 Apr
Next event in
76 days
R
Richmond
17 Apr
-
19 Apr
Next event in
90 days
R
Talladega
24 Apr
-
26 Apr
Next event in
97 days
R
01 May
-
03 May
Next event in
104 days
R
Martinsville
07 May
-
09 May
Next event in
110 days
R
All-Star
15 May
-
16 May
Next event in
118 days
R
Charlotte
22 May
-
24 May
Next event in
125 days
R
29 May
-
31 May
Next event in
132 days
R
Michigan
05 Jun
-
07 Jun
Next event in
139 days
R
12 Jun
-
14 Jun
Next event in
146 days
R
Chicagoland
19 Jun
-
21 Jun
Next event in
153 days
R
26 Jun
-
28 Jun
Next event in
160 days
R
Indianapolis
03 Jul
-
05 Jul
Next event in
167 days
R
Kentucky
09 Jul
-
11 Jul
Next event in
173 days
R
17 Jul
-
19 Jul
Next event in
181 days
R
Michigan II
07 Aug
-
09 Aug
Next event in
202 days
R
Watkins Glen
14 Aug
-
16 Aug
Next event in
209 days
R
Dover II
21 Aug
-
23 Aug
Next event in
216 days
R
Daytona II
27 Aug
-
29 Aug
Next event in
222 days
R
Darlington
04 Sep
-
06 Sep
Next event in
230 days
R
Richmond II
10 Sep
-
12 Sep
Next event in
236 days
R
Bristol II
17 Sep
-
19 Sep
Next event in
243 days
R
Las Vegas II
25 Sep
-
27 Sep
Next event in
251 days
R
Talladega II
02 Oct
-
04 Oct
Next event in
258 days
R
Charlotte II
09 Oct
-
11 Oct
Next event in
265 days
R
Kansas II
16 Oct
-
18 Oct
Next event in
272 days
R
Texas II
23 Oct
-
25 Oct
Next event in
279 days
R
Martinsville II
30 Oct
-
01 Nov
Next event in
286 days
R
Phoenix II
06 Nov
-
08 Nov
Next event in
293 days

Will Erik Jones' breakthrough win lead to more success this year?

shares
comments
Will Erik Jones' breakthrough win lead to more success this year?
By:
Jul 8, 2018, 8:04 PM

Erik Jones scored his first win Saturday night in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway and the 22-year-old might have a few more visits to victory lane before the 2018 season is in the books.

Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com, celebrates after winning.
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com, pulls into victory lane.
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com, does a burnout after winning
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com wins
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com, celebrates in victory lane
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com Celebrates his win
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry buyatoyota.com, crosses the finish line.

Confidence is an amazing thing and it isn’t as if Jones, driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, lacked a belief in himself.

But a win erases all doubt. It can turn a decent team into one that’s suddenly contending for wins on a regular basis and before you know it there’s another team angling for parking space in victory lane each week. 

Jones and his group, led by crew chief Chris Gayle, could be just that team.

A surge in performance

Saturday night’s impressive victory capped off a three-race run that saw Jones finish seventh at Sonoma, sixth at Chicago and first at Daytona.

The Daytona victory earns Jones and his team a spot in the upcoming playoffs, but it was the Sonoma result that was mentioned as being the catalyst behind the team’s recent surge.

“I would tell you the last three (races) I’ve really noticed a change in him,” Gayle said following Jones’ popular win at the 2.5-mile DIS. “Sonoma was a turning point for us.”

Jones was terrible on the California road course a year ago, so he and the team worked on improving there. Maybe that’s an odd tactic given that the series runs only two true road courses each season (the Charlotte Roval scheduled for the Playoffs remains an unknown). But it appears to be paying dividends.

Gayle said the team “went into that weekend knowing it was going to be tough and we were going to have to battle and the first 10 laps of that race were pretty tough. It could have gone either way.”

Instead, his driver “dug a little deeper, found something different,” and came away with a hard-earned seventh-place finish.

“And I think that confidence carried over to Chicago,” Gayle said.

Plate racing versus the rest of the season

You could point to Saturday’s win and say well, it’s Daytona and a restrictor-plate race and anything can happen so why read too much into a single victory there? Success at Daytona and Talladega can be difficult to gauge - Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 earlier this year but didn’t pull off another top 10 until Saturday night.

Is a victory there a barometer or aberration?

Gayle believes it’s a barometer.

“I’m expecting bigger things from him,” he said of his young driver. “You get a little confidence in him – we all know we can do it at this level. it just kind of helps you once you … get the first win. The entire team knows that.”

Jones knows it, too. He’s a year older, a year wiser, a year more experienced. He still has plenty to learn and there are others with more seat time and more success. But he’s headed in the right direction. Saturday’s victory is proof enough of that. 

“I think a year in the Cup Series you grow a lot,” Jones said. “You learn so much. I never learned as much in any other series in any other year racing as I did last year … things that I’ll take with me probably for the rest of my career in NASCAR.

“It’s definitely been a journey but Chris has done a good job of helping me out with that. I’m still only 22 … but definitely I would say a slightly calmer 22-year-old than I was (as a) 21-year-old. 

“We're still working to sand the edges a little bit, but we're definitely getting there.”

Next article
Kahne ends up short of the win, but "we had a really good shot at it”

Previous article

Kahne ends up short of the win, but "we had a really good shot at it”

Next article

Truex on Daytona wrecks: "A lot of guys just wing it, go for broke”

Truex on Daytona wrecks: "A lot of guys just wing it, go for broke”
Load comments

About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Erik Jones
Author Kenny Bruce