Erik Jones claims rookie of the year honors in NASCAR Cup Series
It was one and done for Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 team but it was a season to remember.
FRR added a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team this season, basically from scratch, received rookie Erik Jones on loan from Joe Gibbs Racing who went on to winning rookie of the year honors in the series.
Jones, however, will return to JGR next season and FRR’s No. 77 team will shut down.
“You look back on the season, and starting out a new group over at Furniture Row Racing, a second team there was a big step for us, and a lot of guys that obviously some hadn’t been in the Cup Series, some had,” Jones said.
“But a rookie crew chief, a rookie driver, and we were able to have a strong season, compete for some wins along the way, and end up with rookie of the year. So, definitely one to be proud of.”
Jones ended the year with five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes and won one pole. He finished a career-best second in the August race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
“It’s unfortunate that the No. 77 team won’t be in operation next year. Obviously, I feel like we’ve built a competitive race team and one that definitely is capable of winning races,” Jones, 21, said.
“You know, it’s unfortunate they couldn’t get a driver and get everything together to make that car continue to run, but at the end of the day, I think we’ve improved a lot of people’s skill set throughout the year just learning and being with a top-flight team.”
One thing will remain the same for Jones next season – he will continue to work with his crew chief, Chris Gayle, with JGR’s No. 20 team.
“I’ve never worked in my career with a crew chief more than one year, so it’s kind of a new thing for me to have a year now where I’m going to be working with a guy for the second time and growing and building that relationship,” he said.
“I think it’s definitely a positive that we can take out of it. I think going to Furniture Row for a year definitely gave Chris a different view of things and kind of how to go about things. Just having that relationship and that chemistry when we start out next year is going to be really rewarding.
“I think firing off in Daytona and then to Atlanta, just knowing that we’ve worked together for a year and have those notes to go back on is going to be a big bonus.”
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