Rookie Erik Jones leav­ing Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing to re­place Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Rac­ing.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Matt L. Stephens

Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing is los­ing its star rookie driver at the end of the 2017 sea­son.

Erik Jones, driver of the No. 77 car for Den­ver-based Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing, will drive the No. 20 car for com­peti­tor Joe Gibbs Rac­ing in 2018, JGR an­nounced Tues­day. Jones will re­place Matt Kenseth, who has driven for JGR since 2013.

Jones, 21, is in his first sea­son with FRR, join­ing the team as its sec­ond driver af­ter it de­cided to ex­pand be­yond its one-car sta­ble in Au­gust 2016. He leads NAS­CAR’s rookie of the year stand­ings with 193 points, four ahead of Daniel Suarez.

“I can’t thank Bar­ney Visser and every­one at Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing enough for every­thing they have done for me this year. Pro­fes­sion­ally, I’ve learned a lot, while per­son­ally, I’ve made many mean­ing­ful friend­ships,” Jones wrote on Twit­ter. “The 77 team has come a long way since Fe­bru­ary, and we still have a lot to prove. I’ve had a lot of suc­cess work­ing with JGR, and I’m look­ing for­ward to our fu­ture to­gether.

“How­ever, it’s still 2017, and that is where my fo­cus will stay for the re­main­der of the sea­son. I know we can make this back half of the sched­ule some­thing very spe­cial.”

Jones sits in 14th place in the NAS­CAR Cup stand­ings with 426 points, ahead of driv­ers such as Kurt Busch, Ricky Sten­house Jr. and Dale Earn­hardt Jr. FRR team­mate Martin Truex Jr. is in sec­ond place with 709 points, one be­hind Kyle Lar­son.

“Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing’s com­mit­ment to Jones and the No. 77 team re­mains the same for the re­main­der of the sea­son,” Visser, owner of FRR, said in a state­ment. “Our goal is for Jones to qual­ify for the play­offs, make a run for the cham­pi­onship and cap­ture rookie of the year hon­ors.

“We are work­ing on our team plans for 2018 but don’t have any­thing con­crete to re­port at this time ex­cept that Martin Truex Jr. will con­tinue to drive the No. 78 Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing Toy­ota.”

FRR is the only ma­jor NAS­CAR team lo­cated west of the Mis­sis­sippi River.

Jerry Mark­land, Getty Im­ages

Rookie Erik Jones is head­ing to Joe Gibbs Rac­ing for the 2018 sea­son.

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