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Jones prepares for first Nationwide race, Eldora

Erik Jones will make his Nationwide Series debut at Chicagoland
Erik Jones will make his Nationwide Series debut at Chicagoland

Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Erik Jones is coming off the second win of his career last weekend at Iowa Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series, but just because the Truck Series is off until the Wednesday, July 23rd race at Eldora Speedway doesn’t mean he gets the weekend off.

Jones will make his Nationwide Series debut for Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, driving the No. 20 Toyota Camry. Jones will be the seventh driver in the No. 20 this season, a list that also includes his KBM teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. and JGR drivers Matt Kenseth and Sam Hornish Jr.

“The main thing is for me, and we've talked about it, is just making laps honestly at this point,” said Jones in a recent NASCAR teleconference. “It's a really big step for me getting into a Nationwide car, and especially at a place like Chicagoland. At first I'm just going to be looking to make laps and get to the end of the race and hopefully running up in the top 10. At the end of the day we're all race car drivers and we all want to go for the win. I think we'll be challenging hard to do all we can to run up front and contend, and at the end of the day I hope we'll be up there. I know we've got great equipment and a great team. I'm pretty excited to see what it's all going to bring.”

Jones, who comes from a family with no racing pedigree, points to his KBM owner as a big influence on his racing career to this point.

“Obviously my mom and dad have been able to guide me the right direction in my racing career, and I'm a first-generation racer, I'm not from a racing family of any sort, so it's been really a deal of finding people in the racing industry to kind of influence me and show me which way to go,” said Jones. “But definitely Kyle has been a big influence on me and pointing me in the right direction and helping me out. I think he's been the biggest person in my career, especially since I've been up at the late model level and above that has been able to really show me the right way to go and what is definitely his opinion on what he thinks I should do next.”

Among the things he’s doing next: after Chicagoland, it’s off to the dirt track field of dreams in Rossburg, Ohio, Eldora Speedway. Jones hasn’t raced on dirt, but is welcoming the challenge.

“I think it's cool just in the sense that we do get to go to a dirt track and especially a place like Eldora that they host a lot of really prestigious dirt track races throughout the year,” said Jones. “For us to get a shot to race there and really put our mark down at Eldora is pretty special. I think it would be pretty cool to pick up a win there and definitely think we've got a good shot at it.”

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Quotes in this piece provided by NASCAR.

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