Erik Jones heads to Texas Motor Speedway, the site of his first Xfinity Series win, still in search of his first win of 2016. With three top fives already on the season, Jones can use his recent success at Texas as the catalyst for a championship run.
Chase Elliott did it in 2014. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did it in 2012. Kyle Busch did it in 2009. That is win the spring race at Texas and win the championship in the same year.
Erik Jones won his first career Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway last year and backed up his impressive showing by visiting victory lane in the truck series later that fall, en route to his first NASCAR championship.
Texas is a special place for Jones and has quickly become one of his favorite tracks. You may recall that Jones received his high school diploma at driver introductions during the June 2014 truck series race.
— Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) March 30, 2016
Not a bad way to begin your first ever visit to a track. Receive your diploma from the track president and then roll off the grid in fifth place.
The trip to Texas not come at a better time for Erik Jones. Jones enters Texas a little over a week since it was reported that Joe Gibbs Racing has plans set for him in 2017. Job security is always important, especially in NASCAR, where we have seen young drivers with lots of potential shown the door too early in their careers. At the same time Jones has had tremendous success throughout his early career, which is why these early performances have come as a bit of a shock.
Through five races this season, Jones has three top fives and three top tens but has led a total of only five laps and finds himself seventh in the standings. In his first five starts in the Xfinity Series last year, in a season where he competed in the first 12 races, Jones had only two top fives and two top tens before winning at Texas. In the immediate six races after Texas a year ago, Jones compiled five finishes inside the top-15, four of them resulting in top tens. Jones used Texas as his springboard to another win in the series and nine more top ten finishes.
Now that Jones is competing for a championship, Texas needs to be his springboard to success again. Just like Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch, a win in Texas for Erik Jones can go along way towards his championship hopes.