MIAMI – Just over a year ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Erik Jones, at the age of 19, won the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title and became the youngest champion in series’ history. In Saturday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 300, the 20-year-old Jones is seeking to add the NASCAR XFINTIY Series championship trophy to his display case.
“It would be exciting to come back and win the championship in a different series,” said Jones, who will make the jump into the NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. “Two years back-to-back, two different series, two different teams… that’s been a pretty neat thing.”
Even with last year’s championship and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year award in his back pocket, Jones, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, is careful not to look too far ahead.
“In racing there are so many things you can’t control,” Jones said. “You saw it last week in Phoenix with the No. 9 truck of William Byron blowing a motor. There’s nothing really you can do about it and (thinking about) it is only going to take away your chance to win a championship. All the things you can’t control are definitely things that weigh on your mind, but at the end of the day we’ve got to go out and run our race, try to stay upfront and try to keep ourselves ahead.”
Jones, who made his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in 2013, finds himself battling Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez and Justin Allgaier for this year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.
“I’ve learned a lot of things through (the XFINITY) format this year that I wish I could go back and do differently, and that I know I’ll do differently next year in the Cup Series,” Jones said. “It’s definitely a very different format than I thought it would be and there’s definitely a lot of different approaches I think you could take other than what I did. I’m excited to hopefully try that out and see how it works next year.”
With four wins in the 2016 XFINITY Series season, Jones looks to take home the trophy as part of his bid to make history.
“The long-term goal is to win all three championships because no one has ever done that before, but obviously to do that I’ll have to win this race this year,” Jones said. “I’m excited to get an opportunity in the Cup Series at such a young age. There are not a lot of guys in history that have had that chance, and I’m pretty proud to be one of them.”
NASCAR’s championship season begins Friday with the Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and culminates with Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship finale.