Skip to content

NASCAR: Erik Jones set for Nationwide debut this weekend in Chicago

Jul 15, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

Erik Jones AP

After winning last weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway, 18-year-old Erik Jones is hoping to keep the momentum going this Saturday in his Nationwide Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway.

But Jones also acknowledges that Saturday’s EnjoyIllinois.com 300 is going to be a “pretty big step” up for him.

“At first, I’m just going to be looking to make laps and get to the end of the race and hopefully running up in the top 10,” Jones said today in a NASCAR teleconference.

“At the end of the day, we’re all race car drivers and we all want to go for the win. I think we’ll be challenging hard to do all we can to run up front and contend, and at the end of the day, I hope we’ll be up there.

“I know we’ve got great equipment and a great team. I’m pretty excited to see what it’s all going to bring.”

Saturday’s race is the first of three Nationwide races this season for Jones in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He’ll also run it at Bristol in August and at Phoenix in November.

JGR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth has made the bulk of the starts in the No. 20 Nationwide machine this year (five Top-5s and nine Top-10s in 11 starts). It’s a solid ride, which will raise expectations a bit for Jones.

But it’s not like he isn’t used to that. The No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra that he drives part-time in the Truck Series (and won with last weekend in Iowa) won the 2013 owner’s championship. This season, Busch himself has won all five of his Truck Series starts in the No. 51.

But for this weekend, Jones will seek to learn everything he can from his JGR veteran teammates about dealing with the challenges of Chicagoland, which are quite different from the ones that he’s encountered on the short tracks.

“All my background is short track racing,” Jones said. “I haven’t had a lot of experience with racing on a mile-and-a-half with how the air works and all that. But definitely, my mindset is open to just trying to take advice from my teammates.

“I’ve got two great teammates there in Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish that will be there, so definitely going to lean on them a lot and hopefully get a lot of information out of them as to what they do on these tracks and how they race and just try to learn from them.

“They’ve obviously done it a lot longer than I have, and just hopefully I can learn a lot from them and go into the race and learn a lot and come out a better driver than I was.”

Latest Posts
  1. DiZinno: Daytona fence crash ripple effect could extend to other motorsports

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:04 PM EDT

    DillonCrash Getty Images

    The potential ripple effects of Austin Dillon’s catch-fence accident could extend far beyond NASCAR.

  2. Red Bull GRC: Sandell, Dyne deliver Bryan Herta Rallysport first double top-five of year

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:14 PM EDT

    Photo: Bryan Herta Rallysport Photo: Bryan Herta Rallysport

    Sandell, Dyne make it a double top-five for Bryan Herta Rallysport at MCAS New River.

  3. Williams was damned if it did, damned if it didn’t execute team orders on Sunday

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    WilliamsSilverstone Getty Images

    Leading 1-2 early, Williams was almost trapped, rather than able to seize its moment in Silverstone.

  4. Raikkonen drops to P8 in British GP after strategy error

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Ferrari's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen skids off during the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.       AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A gamble on intermediate tires backfires for Kimi Raikkonen at Silverstone.

  5. Race Recap: Hamilton sees off early Williams threat and late rain shower to claim third home victory

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton (L) holds the trophy as he walks in the pits after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.  
 AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The British driver sends the home crowd into raptures with his third Silverstone victory.

  6. Ten with Townsend: Red Bull GRC 4 races in, post-MCAS New River

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    GRCDaytona Getty Images

    After the latest Red Bull GRC round, we catch up with NBC Sports Group motorsports analyst Townsend Bell for a special Red Bull GRC installment of “Ten with Townsend.”

  7. Smiling Through the Rain: Silverstone proved that it isn’t all doom and gloom in F1

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Fans cheer Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP after his victory in the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke Smith gets a little patriotic following his home grand prix, explaining why F1 could stand to be a little more British in its mentality.

  8. Ken Block seizes opportunity, wins Red Bull GRC at MCAS New River

    Jul 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    BlockMCASwin Getty Images

    Block wins at MCAS New River, Round 4 of the Red Bull GRC season.

  9. FIA stewards take no action over five-car incident on first lap of British Grand Prix

    Jul 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Grosjean, Ricciardo, Maldonado, Alonso and Button all cleared of any wrongdoing after first lap incident.

  10. WATCH LIVE: Red Bull GRC from MCAS New River at 5 p.m. ET on NBC

    Jul 5, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    OMSEdaytona Getty Images

    Before NASCAR resumes on NBC from Daytona, see Red Bull GRC pick up its season from its first race after Daytona, at MCAS New River.

  11. F1 Paddock Pass: British Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

    Jul 5, 2015, 3:06 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Will Buxton brings you all of the post-race interviews and analysis at Silverstone.

  12. Alonso takes “small joy” from first point of 2015 season

    Jul 5, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    P10 at Silverstone gets Alonso off the mark in 2015.

  13. Manor scores best result since Monaco 2014 at Silverstone

    Jul 5, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Will Stevens of Great Britain and Manor Marussia drives during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens finish 12th and 13th at Manor’s home race.

  14. Massa frustrated to lose podium finish in late downpour

    Jul 5, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    Williams Martini Racing's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa (L) leads Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas during the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.      AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Brazilian driver forced to settle for fourth place at Silverstone on Sunday.

  15. Ricciardo sidelined by electrical issue in British GP

    Jul 5, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Issue on the Renault power unit forces Ricciardo out of the race at Silverstone.

  16. Hopes of first win fade for Bottas due to team orders, late rain shower at Silverstone

    Jul 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas and Williams Martini Racing's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa (R) race during the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.       AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Could today have marked Valtteri Bottas’ first victory in Formula 1?

  17. Vettel thanks rain for podium finish at Silverstone, doubts Williams made a massive step

    Jul 5, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel holds a trophy after taking third place in the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.    AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A late rain shower allows Vettel to claim Ferrari’s first podium finish since the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.

  18. Rosberg recovers to second at Silverstone, praises Hamilton for late pit call

    Jul 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP makes a pit stop during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After a poor start, Rosberg fights his way to second place at Silverstone, but slips further behind Hamilton in the drivers’ championship.

  19. Emotional Hamilton tears up on last lap of British GP, thanks fans for support en route to win

    Jul 5, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.
 AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton won his home grand prix for the third time on Sunday after seeing off a spirited challenge from Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and both Williams drivers.