NASCAR Cup: Erik Jones sidelined at Dover

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By AMANDA VINCENT

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regular Corey Heim will be behind the wheel of the No. 43 Legacy Motor Club Toyota, usually driven by Erik Jones, in Sunday’s Wurth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway. Jones was injured in a multi-car crash on lap 157 of the Geico 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 21.

VIDEO: Jones, Heim press conference at Dover

After the crash, Jones was treated and released from the infield care center at Talladega. He, then, went to University of Alabama Birmingham University Hospital in Birmingham for additional evaluation. Jones returned home to North Carolina the same night, and after meeting with specialists in the Charlotte area, a compression fracture in a lower vertebra was diagnosed.

 “I think, for me, it is pretty straight forward,” Jones said. It hurt when I crashed. I’ve never broken a bone in my life, so I didn’t even know what that would feel like. I got out of the car on my own, and I was feeling better. Obviously, adrenaline is going, and I’m pumped up still. Got to the care center, told them what was wrong, that my back was hurting; they poked and prodded all over me, like they normally do, and I said everything felt okay, and I told them multiple times that it felt like muscle strain to me. From there, I got up, and I was getting around. I walked into the care center. I got up to leave and was feeling good, was getting released. I talked to a couple of nurses on the way out, and they said if anything changes, just come right back, because they were under the same impression – lot of adrenaline – and they could tell that I was hurting a little bit. By the time I got back to the motorhome, after the interviews, I was in more and more pain as time was passing. Got changed into my clothes and knew I was going to have to go back. It really hurt, and I had some trouble getting around, so I went back right away and said there is probably more wrong than what I was letting onto you guys. It is really starting to cause me some pain, so then, we made the decision to transport. We took an x-ray there, saw some possible problems, wasn’t really sure with the equipment, so we went ahead and transferred to UAB after that.”

A timetable for Jones’ return has not been determined, but NASCAR already has confirmed he will be granted a medical waiver to maintain his eligibility to contend for a playoff berth.

“Erik’s long-term health is our number one priority,” Legacy Motor Club co-owner Jimmie Johnson said. “It will be great to see him at the track Sunday (at Dover), and we intend to give him the time it takes to recover properly. I know Corey will do a great job behind the wheel for the Club. In the meantime, our thoughts are with Erik and his wife Holly; they have our total support.”

Sunday’s race will mark Heim’s Cup Series debut. He qualified 32nd Saturday.The Truck Series has the weekend off. Heim is second in the driver standings in that series with one win in seven races. While racing in the Truck Series for TRICON Garage and part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Sam Hunt Racing, Heim is under contract as substitute driver for Legacy Motor Club.


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