In the last seven races, Erik Jones has proven his worth at Joe Gibbs Racing. He has scored six top-10’s which included a fifth this past weekend at Watkins Glen International, and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Daytona International Speedway.
His average finish in the last six races has been the second-best in the series, only behind Truex. Also in that time span, he has been the third-best regarding starting position.
Yes, the No. 20 has gotten hot during this summer stretch and may be looking at more positives to come. The next three races, Michigan International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, and Darlington Raceway, proved to be some of Jones best last season. He finished in the top-five in each of the races, and do not forget contended for the win at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” and leading 250-laps before placing second.
If Jones can repeat the success he had at these places, maybe capture another win and add in a solid run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he will head into his first playoffs with a lot of momentum.
Could he even be a championship contender?
While he may not have as many wins as Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex, the Michigan-native has shown that he can hang with the best of the sport on a weekly basis, something not a lot of his competition can say right now.
It is also worth remembering that four drivers get a chance at the title. Meaning, even if the “big three” dominate and win all of the races, there will still be another driver in the fight, and if his consistency keeps up, it could easily be Jones.
Now, the argument could be made that his lack of playoff experience could be his downfall, especially considering the number of veterans who will be in the field of 16.
Fair, however, this is someone driving for one of the best teams in the sport who has the stats that legitimize him as a threat. It would be foolish to think that Jones couldn’t be a sleeper to find a way to succeed.
It is also worth noting that he has shown strength in these types of scenarios before. In his first full season in the Camping World Truck Series, he won the championship. His only experience in the XFINITY Series playoffs earned him a trip to the final four.
Jones has proven himself before, he’s showing his strength now, and while the playoffs are still a ways off, this is a driver that will need to be taken seriously come September.
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