Joe Gibbs Racing announced Tuesday that long-time Toyota prospect Erik Jones will replace Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry next season.
Jones, 21, is currently 14th in the Cup standings as a rookie for JGR affiliate Furniture Row Racing.
Kenseth, the 2003 series champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner, has won 38 races in 20 seasons at NASCAR’s top level. The 45-year-old won seven races in his first season with JGR in 2013 and five two years ago. He currently is winless with the rest of the four-driver lineup.
“Matt has been a tremendous asset to our organization over the past five seasons both on and off the track,” team owner Joe Gibbs said in a statement. “He’s been a great teammate and a great ambassador for our sponsors. We have a great deal of respect for him and we are working hard to get the 20 team into the playoffs to make a run for the championship. We have a great deal of confidence in his abilities to do just that.”
None of the four Gibbs drivers - Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin or Daniel Suarez - have won yet this season.
Jones has five top-10s and has credited Truex with helping him adjust to NASCAR's premier level.
Meanwhile, Truex is having a career year, sitting second in points with three wins.
In a statement, FRR owner Barney Visser said in part:
"... Furniture Row Racing's commitment to Jones and the No. 77 team remains the same for the remainder of the season. Our goal is for Jones to qualify for the playoffs, make a run for the championship and capture Rookie of the Year honors.
"We are working on our team plans for 2018 but don't have anything concrete to report at this time except that Martin Truex Jr. will continue to drive the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota."
Brandt James, USA Today