Erik Jones clinched NASCAR Monster Cup Rookie of the Year at Homestead Sunday.
The 21-year-old Jones beat Daniel Suarez of Mexico under a point system that factors in starts, finish positions, stage points, season points and a “behavior" clause. Ty Dillon was a distant third in the three-man scrap for the rookie honor.
“I’m proud that we had a rookie crew chief and a rookie driver (on what essentially was a startup team), and were able to have a strong season," said Jones, who drove the No. 77 Toyota as a teammate to Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. “We competed for some wins along the way (third at Pocono and Michigan, and second at Bristol) and won Rookie of the Year. This was one of our goals, and it’s nice to close it out with it. It’s something to be proud of for all of us."
Jones is scheduled to run the full Cup schedule next year for JGR in the No. 20 Toyota that Kenseth is leaving. The plans right now are for the No. 77 Toyota team to go away unless team owner Barney Visser can find a sponsor.
“It’s unfortunate," Jones said of shuttering the ROTY team. “I feel like we’ve built a competitive team, one definitely capable of winning races. It’s unfortunate they couldn’t get a driver and get everything together to make that car continue to run. But I think we’ve improved a lot of people’s skill set throughout the year by learning and being with a top-notch team."