Late last week, NBC Sports posted an article that said that while Chris Buescher is unsure of his plans for next season, Erik Jones already knows his plans, but couldn’t reveal the details at this point.
Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing have claimed Jones to be in their stable long term, previously driving Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks and currently driving JGR Xfinty series cars. But the young driver is likely to jump to the Cup Series sooner, rather than later.
With currently rules of a team having a max of four cars in the Sprint Cup Series, the immediate future for Erik Jones is unlikely to be with JGR. Its four drivers of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth are all well-settled in. Unless there’s a big shakeup or Edwards and Kenseth are planning a retirement in 2017, Jones will have to look elsewhere.
But the new for 2016 JGR alliance with Furniture Row Racing would be an obvious spot to put the up and coming driver. In the past Toyota Racing Development, who provides assistance and engines for the JGR and now FRR should have the capability. In the past, TRD provided engines to both JGR and the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing, which at its peak had three cars.
When ClosetNASCARFan.com asked a TRD employee working with MWR at the 2014 Coca Cola 600, he said that the TRD facilities could handle supporting up to 8 Cup cars.
Likewise, Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser has shown interest in putting a second car onto the Sprint Cup grid, though that has slightly been complicated with the new charter system — FRR’s second entry wouldn’t be locked into each race, but would have to race in every week, much like the Wood Brothers are currently doing.
Regardless, between the capacity of TRD, the interest in FRR expanding and Jones likely to make the jump to Cup in 2017, Furniture Row Racing is the obvious choice. Even with having to race their second entry in, performance has been great with the No. 78 team and would likely continue if the Colorado-based Cup team decided to field an entry for Erik Jones.
Source: NBC Sports – Erik Jones certain, Chris Buescher unsure about prospects in 2017