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Erik Jones hopes to take "next step" after LMC's "big gains"

Erik Jones’ 2023 NASCAR Cup season appeared to hit rock bottom just over a month ago, but persistence has paid big dividends.

Erik Jones, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, U.S. AIR FORCE Chevrolet Camaro

Jones and the Legacy Motor Club organization were already off to a difficult start when it was announced in May that LMC would move from the Chevrolet to Toyota camp at the end of the year.

Such changes and the interim transition period that comes with it typically don’t help a team that’s trying to improve its on-track product.

Following the Charlotte race on Memorial Day Weekend, Jones and his No. 43 team bottomed out at 31st in the Cup standings after a 32nd-place finish.

Rather than give up, LMC continued to work harder and the results over the past five races have reflected the effort.

With Jones’ ninth-place finish Sunday at Pocono Raceway, he has now finished 11th or better in four of his last five races and no worse than 16th.

While the improvement doesn’t make a potential playoff berth any easier to come by – he would still need a victory to make the 16-driver field – it has provided some much-needed optimism.

 

“Obviously, we wish we were fighting for that playoff spot – we’re in a must-win. But we need some more speed to get into a winning position on tracks like (Pocono),” Jones said. “Daytona is obviously going to be an opportunity, but we need another step going to a place like Michigan coming up to contend for wins.

“We’ve made big gains – we went from a 25th place team to a top-12 team, I’d say, right now. Just hope we can find a way to take that next step.”

The 27-year-old native of Byron, Michigan, had a fairly consistent performance on Sunday.

After starting 24th, Jones was able to finish 10th in Stage 1 and thanks to playing some good pit strategy, found his way into the top-ten at the end of the race.

“I thought we had some good speed. We capitalized a lot on strategy and some opportunities to get up to the top there at the end,” Jones said. “We had some restarts go our way and happy it played out for us.”

Jones hopes a visit to his hometown track of Michigan Int. Speedway in two weeks will provide another opportunity for a strong run – or even an elusive win.

“Michigan has been another one, historically, like Pocono that’s been good for us. We ran good there last year,” he said. “Hopefully, we can carry some speed and things we learned here that I think we can probably get better on our No. 43 Chevy to go to a big track like Michigan.

“We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m happy with where we’ve been going.”

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