NASCAR Xfinity: Erik Jones top rookie
Erik Jones (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR “young gun” Erik Jones made his mark in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015, claiming the series championship and Rookie of the Year honors simultaneously. He fell just short of the same feat in the Xfinity Series in 2016, taking series top rookie honors and getting to the Championship Four in the first-ever chase for the Xfinity Series, but in the series season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he fell short of the Xfinity Series title, losing that honor to Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Daniel Suarez.
Adding to his rookie honor from the Truck Series from the Year ago, his 2016 Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year award is his second-straight from a NASCAR national series.
Battling Suarez and JR Motorsports drivers Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier for the big Xfinity Series prize at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday in the Ford EcoBoost 300 season-finale, Jones finished ninth, overall, in the 40-car race.
Jones’ top-10 finish at Homestead was his 20th of the 33-race season. His 2016 Xfinity season also included four race wins and 15-top-five finishes. He won races at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Iowa Speedway in Newton and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Jones also ran a significant number of races during a 2015 partial Xfinity Series schedule, winning twice in 23 races. In all, he has 59-career starts, also making three starts in the series in 2014. In all, he has six-career wins, 28 top-fives and 40 top-10 finishes.
Jones will have a shot at another top rookie award next year, as he’ll embark on his first season of full-time competition in the Sprint Cup Series, signing to drive for the expanding Furniture Row Racing team as a teammate to Martin Truex Jr.