Erik Jones to replace Matt Kenseth next season

Drive Erik Jones watches a pit box while reporting for the broadcast of the NASCAR xfinity Series auto race, Saturday, June 10, 2017, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

With Matt Kenseth not under contract for the 2018 NASCAR season, the veteran did not sound optimistic about a return to Joe Gibbs Racing when asked about the possibility last week. On Tuesday, Joe Gibbs Racing announced its plans for the No. 20 car, with Erik Jones replacing Kenseth.

Jones is driving the Furniture Row Motorsports No. 77 car this season, as Joe Gibbs Racing had no room for the 21-year old on its Sprint Cup roster. Regarded as one of the top young talents in NASCAR, Jones has one top five and five top 10 finishes this season. Jones’ best finish came in the Pocono 400 presented by Axalta last month, as he finished third behind Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick.

“This is a really exciting time in my career for me to make the move back to Joe Gibbs Racing full time in the Cup Series and continue to have the success I’ve had with them over the last few years,” Jones said in the release. “I will always be grateful for the opportunity given to me by Barney Visser and everyone at Furniture Row Racing this year for my first full year in the Cup Series.

“I’ve learned a lot this year and I’ve had a great group of guys around me each week to lean on as I figured out my rookie season and how to make my way in the Cup Series.”

At 45 years of age, Kenseth is the oldest full-time driver on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup circuit. This season Kenseth has produced three top five and six top 10 finishes, with his best result being a third-place finish in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in early March.

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