Earlier this week, Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing revealed future plans for racing phenom Erik Jones during an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“We’ve got a plan laid out in the future, and it’s something we can’t, you know, we don’t want to talk about now, but there is no question. This guy, Erik’s headed for Cup,” Gibbs said during the interview. “He’s headed for Cup and we’ve got a path charted that we think is the best to get him ready and to fulfill his goal of being in a Cup car as quick as we can get him there.”
Specifically, the plan has Jones running a full Xfinity Series schedule in a JGR entry next year, in addition to select Sprint Cup Series races.
Here’s the can of worms opened by that move:
JGR is at its limit with Sprint Cup teams, fielding four cars full-time for Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. The organization can field a fifth car for a few races next year, as long as the plan is to make him Sprint Cup championship-eligible the following year, i.e. 2017. For reference, this is what Hendrick Motorsports is doing with Chase Elliott, preparing him to take over the No. 24 ride for the retiring Jeff Gordon next year.
But which Cup driver is going to be out at JGR come the end of 2016? Possibly, none. Why is that? Maybe Jones’ Cup ride in 2017 won’t be with Gibbs’ organization. There are options, you know.
Gibbs said that there’s a plan in place. He’s not revealing that exact plan and probably won’t for quite some time. In the meantime, it’s fun to speculate.
I’m not going to bother speculating on how Michael Waltrip Racing could fit into this equation, because that team’s future is so uncertain. Will it switch to Chevrolet and form a technical alliance with Chip Ganassi Racing with Rob Kauffman’s move to buy a stake in CGR? Or will MWR even be around in the near future? It may fall by the wayside, or be merged into the Ganassi organization.
Here’s a scenario I’ve been thinking about. Note that this is just a scenario I either heard thrown out there or it just popped into my head, not sure I really remember. So don’t take this as news or something that, for sure, is going to happen. I could be way off here. And I admit, sometimes I am.
Anyway, here it goes.
Furniture Row Racing onwer Barney Visser has expressed initrest in expanding to a two-car team, if sufficient sponsorship backing is found. Also, Visser has complained publicly about not getting assistance from Chevrolet, hinting that a change in manufacturer could be on the horizon.
Here’s what I’m thinking.
Furniture Row Racing switches to Toyota by 2017 and forms a technical alliance with JGR. With assistance from Joe Gibbs Racing, Furniture Row Racing is able to find sponsorship for the desired second car. And there you have it — FRR has a seat it needs to fill and JGR has a driver for whom it needs to find a Cup ride. Furniture Row, meet Jones. Jones meet Furniture Row. It’s as simple as that.
Okay, so maybe it’s not really as simple as it looks on paper. Agreements have to be made between Visser and Toyota and Visser and Gibbs. Then a sponsor needs to be found. Still, it seems like a good idea to me if all parties and pieces can come together.
Again, this isn’t for sure happening. It’s just an idea I’m throwing out there. But it does sound like a good idea, doesn’t it? Who knows? Maybe this is the master plan. But then again, maybe it’s not. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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