NASCAR Insiders Unearth Joe Gibbs Jeopardizing Jimmie Johnson’s Drivers’ Career

Published 08/17/2023, 1:19 PM EDT

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In the NASCAR arena, every team, whether it’s the likes of Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing, aspires to have the crème de la crème of drivers. However, with the future being anyone’s guess, teams often play their cards based on the current stars on the racing circuit.

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NASCAR pit reporters recently put the hot topic under the microscope on GoPRNLive. They delved into the potential departure of Aric Almirola from SHR and the entry of the newest Indianapolis victor into the fold. In their discussion, they highlighted instances where teams, including JGR, might have missed the mark in their selection choices when opportunity knocked.

When long-standing alliances in NASCAR took unexpected turns:

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The conversation initially honed in on Michael McDowell, recently tipped to replace Aric Almirola at Stewart-Haas Racing. However, his Indianapolis triumph might have turned the tide. Instead of making the leap to SHR, a move that could’ve been a game-changer for him, McDowell seems to have pledged allegiance to his current team, Front Row Motorsports, after his recent victory.

Joe Gibbs’ “Baby Brat” Faces the Racing Community’s Wrath

However, the conversation took a detour, revisiting a pivotal moment from a few years ago. The Joe Gibbs Racing team’s indecision nearly threw a wrench in the career of one of Jimmie Johnson‘s drivers. The reporter recapped the quandary faced by the JGR team back in 2020: they had one coveted spot and two promising drivers, Christopher Bell, and Erik Jones.

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“Toyota had to go through a few years ago with having Erik Jones at Joe Gibbs Racing and then having Christopher Bell and trying to decide which one of those two they were going to have in the one seat they had available. They chose Christopher Bell over Erik Jones, and it sent Jones on a different path. But obviously, Jones will be back with Toyota next year, now that Legacy Motor Club falls into the fold.”

Just like many others, even Jones’s initial reaction to this twist in his career trajectory was a palpable disappointment, as he had not anticipated being ‘blindsided’ by his long-standing partners.

Erik Jones was caught off guard by Joe Gibbs Racing’s decision

As per autoweek.com, back in 2020, Erik Jones was thrown a curveball when he learned that Joe Gibbs Racing wouldn’t be renewing his contract for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Sharing his thoughts during a pre-race interview for the upcoming 2020 Michigan International Speedway event, Jones revealed that he had been left blindsided. He had been under the impression that both sides were on the brink of sealing a contract extension.

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Erik Jones reflected, “I didn’t really expect it coming from our talks. I thought we were moving in a good direction. At the end of the day, I’ve had a great, really, eight years almost with Joe Gibbs Racing between Xfinity and Cup, and I’m thankful for that time. It’s good to see the support that’s been out there the last few days on social media and everybody that’s coming out in support; it’s been awesome.”

Watch This Story: Joe Gibbs Self-Centered Grandson Faces Outrage After Dangerous Oversight in Xfinity

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For now, as the countdown to the playoffs ticks down with only two races left, all eyes will be on the teams. Those on the cusp of qualifying will be pulling out all the stops to make the cut, while others will be vying to clinch another victory to cement their top-4 standing. Not to mention, even teams would be vying for new players, like SVG, to take them under their banner.

 

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

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One take at a time

Neha Dwivedi is a NASCAR Writer for EssentiallySports. Her ability to capture the spirit of the exhilarating races and relay the enthusiasm to her readers distinguishes her as a sports journalist. Neha's articles strike a nice balance between technical accuracy and story-telling.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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