Erik Jones is looking to join his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. in the win column this season.
Jones enters Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway 17th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings. He’s recorded three top-five and five top-10 finishes through the first 13 races of the season.
But Jones has not yet been able to find Victory Lane, a quest he hopes to accomplish Sunday in the first visit of the year to Pocono.
Like most drivers, Jones has a number of questions about how this year’s rules package will impact the on track competition around the 2.5-mile triangular track.
“Still some unanswered questions,” Jones said after Friday’s practice. “I mean you get kind of a baseline of where you want to be and where the package is trending and kind of what you need to work on now. As far as 100 percent, yeah, still some questions you need answered. You don’t know as far as mock run – it looked like a couple of guys made some mock runs there at the end to really get a feel for it.
“There’s still a lot to learn. You have to learn how it’s going to be on the long run, traffic – I didn’t really get into any traffic so still for me, a lot of questions.”
One thing Jones is sure of is how intense restarts will be in Sunday’s race. Pocono’s reputation for cars fanning out five and sometimes six wide on the track’s long front straightaway will be enhanced with the rules package according to Jones.
“Pretty wild,” he predicted. “I think it’s going to be really tough to pass to be honest with you and you’re going to have to really make up your ground when everyone is not at full speed and obviously as wide as the frontstretch is, it makes for a lot of opportunity, but it also gets pretty narrow, pretty quick when you get on to Turn 1.
“Restarts are – it’s going to be a big bottleneck into (Turn) 1 more than anything. There’s going to be a lot of opportunity to make some big moves.”
One thing Jones isn’t too concerned about is his future with JGR where he reports contract extension negotiations are coming along to keep him in the fold.
“Yeah. I’d say that’s pretty accurate,” Jones said. “I think we’re pretty close I would say. Definitely farther along than we were a month or two ago. In good shape here right now.”