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Erik Jones "feeling pretty good" despite suffering back injury in 70G crash

Erik Jones has no set timetable for his return to NASCAR Cup competition after suffering a compression fracture in last weekend’s race at Talladega, but wishes he could “hop back in.”

Erik Jones, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, AdventHealth Toyota Camry

Jones, who drives the No. 43 Toyota for Legacy Motor Club, was originally released from the infield care center following a multi-car wreck late in the race but returned on his own complaining of pain in his back.

He was eventually transported to a local hospital and diagnosed with a compression fracture forcing him to sit out this week’s race at Dover.

“To be honest right now, I’m feeling pretty good. As a driver, probably any driver, they want to just hop back in. I would love to say that I could get back in and do it right now,” Jones, 27, said Saturday at Dover.

“Is that possible? I don’t know. I don’t know how I would truly feel in the car, especially a place like Dover. I get pretty sore at night and when I’m not moving around. My range of motion is a bit limited right now, but the soreness has faded away.

“It was pretty bad earlier in the week, and I was just resting. By yesterday and today, I’m feeling better and better.”

John Hunter Nemechek, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, AdventHealth Toyota Camry and Erik Jones, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Family Dollar Toyota Camry

John Hunter Nemechek, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, AdventHealth Toyota Camry and Erik Jones, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, Family Dollar Toyota Camry

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

Truck Series regular Corey Heim is filling in for Jones in the No. 43 this weekend at Dover and will likely do so again next week at Kansas if Jones continues to sit out. After that, the plan is “week to week.”

With just over 30 laps remaining at Talladega, a push into the corner involving John Hunter Nemechek and Bubba Wallace unsettled the group of Toyotas that had pit together earlier. The bump from behind started a chain-reaction crash that saw Jones’ car hooked head-on into the outside wall.

The wreck collected four of the seven Toyotas in the group, knocking Jones, Wallace, Nemechek and Denny Hamlin all out of contention.

Jones immediately complained about back pain over his team radio but was initially checked and released from the infield care center. He later returned and was transported to a hospital in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent further evaluation. He was discharged later that night.

“It hurt when I crashed,” said Jones, who described the impact of his wreck as nearly 70gs. “I’ve never broken a bone in my life, so I didn’t even know what that would feel like. I got out of the car on my own and I was feeling better. Obviously, adrenaline is going, and I’m pumped up still.

“Got to the care center, told them what was wrong, my back was hurting. And they poked and prodded all over me as they normally do. And I said everything felt okay. And I told them multiple times, it was feeling just like muscle strain to me.”

Once Jones got back to his bus and changed, he realized there might be something more wrong.

“Went back right away and said, ‘Look, I think there’s probably more wrong here than what I was letting on to you guys. It’s really starting to cause me some pain.’ And so then we made the decision to transport (to the hospital),” he said.

Defending the Next Gen car

Jones said he believes the wreck and injury “could have been a lot worse” and credited the safety of the Next Gen car.

“I think NASCAR has gotten some of a bad rap this week. The Next Gen car gets a bad rap. And at the end of the day, I think the car did its job,” he said.

“As far as coming back, I think it is week-to-week. My injury is fortunately on the mild side, so we will just have to see how it is healing up, how I’m feeling – again, I’m feeling better and better every day.

“I have an appointment next week, and kind of will make a decision from there.”

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