Rookie Erik Jones leaving Furniture Row Racing to replace Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing.
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.
Rookie Erik Jones is heading to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2018 season.