With Bubba Wallace joining the newly named 23XI Racing team in 2021, it leaves Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) without a driver. Fortunately, they seem to have sorted that issue out, as they have announced Erik Jones as their new driver. Needless to say, Wallace was thrilled to find out who was replacing him.
Earlier this season, the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team dropped Jones after six seasons together. On the other end of the spectrum, RPM and Bubba Wallace are parting ways.
Jones insisted that both of them have something to prove and are eager to start afresh. In the meantime, Christopher Bell is set to take over Jones’ vacated #20 seat, especially since Leavine Family Racing is leaving the sport.
Barring Wallace’s off-track activities and its effect on NASCAR, the team insisted that his absence will not have an adverse effect. Truthfully speaking, the African-American driver attracted several sponsorships, like flies to honey.
Admittedly, most of those sponsors will follow him to the Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin-led 23XI Racing team. However, Jones is considered one of NASCAR’s rising talents and will definitely attract sponsors of his own.
This will be the first time Jones has driven any other car that is not a Toyota, except for the 2012 ARCA Series. Having been a Toyota developmental driver for long time, it could be hard for him to adjust to new machinery.
“I’m going to have the opportunity to really know everybody. I knew a lot of people at JGR, but they’ve got almost 500 employees,” Jones said. “Looking at what RPM is and what they have, it’s a comfortable situation for me because it’s how I grew up, I worked on a lot of my own stuff.”
It is also worth noting that Jones’ dismissal from JGR could be related to his performance. He failed to make the playoffs this year, unlike his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. He confessed that the move “blindsided” him as he was seeking a contract extension.