Erik Jones Is Proving His Worth
Erik Jones put on a surprise performance at Talladega when he was just a lap away from finding victory lane.
Jones crossed the penultimate lap in first place but fell back to sixth as the checkered flag dropped. He was a few car lengths ahead of the pack coming out of turn four but went up to block Kyle Larson instead of clinging to the bottom lane. Ultimately, the move cost him an opportunity to capture his first win in the historic no.43 car, which would have been his third, and the 200th for the number overall.
Jones put the no.43 at the top of the board for 25 total circuits, the most since the fall 2012 race at Kansas where Aric Almirola led 69 laps, which will have been a decade ago later this year.
Although Richard Petty Motorsports is no more, since the team merged in a new joint venture along with GMS Racing, forming the aptly named Petty GMS Racing, the story, legend, and history of the no.43 remain intact and ever-present.
This season, Erik Jones has put in several other admirable performances that have kept his story relevant. Jones has done well enough where he is only twelve points outside of the playoffs and 17th in the regular-season standings. He has amassed one top five, a third-place at Fontana, where the no.43 could also be seen upfront for 18 laps. Jones also achieved two other top tens, a 9th at COTA, and the sixth place, which was nearly a victory, at Talladega.
In a season full of renewal and opportunity, there are also the prevailing ‘could have beens’ for Jones. For example, with a few laps to go at Las Vegas he was running 8th before he lost control and wrecked out. If he had finished there, then he would be in the playoffs right now, instead of on the outside looking in. Limiting mistakes like this will be crucial as Jones tries to fight his way into a conversation not many expected him to be in before the start of the season.
If Jones makes the playoffs, either by a win or by points, then the conversation surrounding his career options will become renewed. It is no secret that he struggled at JGR, a powerhouse organization. However, Jones appears to be near the performance ceiling of his current car and team. Sometimes, he even punches well above it. If he can sustain this kind of quality results in the coming months, other teams and organizations should consider taking one more look at ‘That Jones Boy.’