By: Mitchell Breuer
It has been a largely forgettable year for Erik Jones. However, in the last four races, the No. 20 team has stepped it up, not finishing any worse than eighth and tallying three podiums.
This continued this past Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, where Jones was able to take advantage of pit strategy to gain track position. He ultimately did not have enough to catch eventual race-winner, Chase Elliott, but still managed to finish third.
“I think we’ve had our share of ups and downs. Definitely more ups in the last month and a half than downs,” Jones told POPULAR SPEED. “We’re doing what we’re supposed to do, up and running in the top five each and every week. I think Vegas even we could have run in the top five had things worked out a little bit differently at the end of the race.”
To address the elephant in the room, these strong runs over the last month for Jones may be more important than ever, as he still does not have anything finalized for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season – which has grown especially concerning over the last few weeks with several of the best rides available being taken by other free agents.
“I’m still hunting to finish up my plans for next year,” Jones said. “I think every good run doesn’t hurt. Can only make things a little easier.”
Despite it being late in the season, the Michigan-native is still hopeful that this late-season resurgence is not all for not.
“I don’t think it’s ever too late,” Jones said. “I think any time you can help your stock is good. I’ve ran good on every style of track. Talladega and Bristol, Las Vegas, the road course today. I don’t know. Obviously, I wish I would have won ’em all. I don’t know what more to do. Sometimes we run really strong, I feel like I hope I get a good ride next year. Still working hard at it. Still trying to work things out. But we’re heading in the right direction on a lot of things, too.”
With that in mind, he did admit it is frustrating to not know where his next opportunity lies; however, that mystery may be revealed sooner than later.
“I really think we’ll have something done this week,” Jones said. “Not saying that that means we’re going to announce anything. We’re definitely really close I think of working something out. Hopefully we can get that done.”