By AMANDA VINCENT
Joe Gibbs Racing has called on Erik Jones to fill-in for Matt Kenseth behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth. Kenseth will be serving a two-race suspension for the Texas race and the following race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. He will be able to return for the season-finale Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kenseth was suspended from NASCAR competition for two races and placed on probation for six months on Tuesday, because of actions during the Nov. 1 Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. After an incident that also included Brad Keselowski late in the Martinsville race, Kenseth returned to the track nine laps down and intentionally wrecked Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano, presumably in retaliation for an incident between Kenseth and Logano two races prior at Kansas Speedway.
With five laps remaining in the race at Kansas, Kenseth blocked Logano. Logano then made contact with Kenseth to get around him. Logano then went on to win the race. It was his second in a string of three-consecutive victories.
Kenseth appealed his case to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Thursday morning in an attempt to get his penalties lifted or reduced. When that appeal failed, he pleaded his case to the National Motorsprots Final Appeals Officer Thursday afternoon. That appeal also failed, at least regarding the suspension. The Final Appeals Officer did, though, reduce the probation from sixth months to the end of 2015.
Jones has one official Sprint Cup Series start, coming as a substitute for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 earlier this season at Kansas Speedway. He also ran a portion of the first race of the year at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway in the No. 11 car for Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was credited with the finish after starting the race in the car, but after a rain delay, Hamlin sat out the remainder of the race because of neck spasms.
Jones added duty of driving the No. 20 Sprint Cup car creates a race weekend of triple-duty for Jones at Texas. He’s also slated to compete for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series on Friday night and for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday afternoon.
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