Jones Cleared To Race; Will Return At Darlington


Erik Jones (Danny Hansen/LAT for Toyota Racing photo)

STATESVILLE, N.C. – Erik Jones has been cleared by doctors and approved by the sanctioning body to return to NASCAR Cup Series action with Legacy Motor Club.

However, as a precaution while he continues to recover from a back injury suffered at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 21, Jones will sit out again this weekend at Kansas Speedway.

It will mark the second straight race Jones has missed this season. Corey Heim, Legacy Motor Club’s reserve and simulator driver, will make his second career Cup Series start in the AdventHealth 400.

Jones plans to return at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 12 for the Goodyear 400, as part of NASCAR’s annual throwback weekend. He’s a two-time Cup Series winner at the Track Too Tough to Tame.

“I agree with Legacy Motor Club's decision to ensure proper rest before I get back in the car,” Jones said in a statement Thursday following the announcement. “I will be in Kansas this weekend to continue to support the No. 43 team and Corey Heim and I look forward to being back behind the wheel at Darlington.”

The Byron, Mich., native is in the midst of his eighth full-time season of Cup Series competition, and his third season behind the wheel of the No. 43 for what was formerly Petty GMS Racing before the team added seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson as a co-owner.

Jones, 27, was involved in a multi-car crash at Talladega that fractured a vertebra in his lower back.

He traveled to Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway last weekend despite the injury to support his team and Heim, who made both his Cup Series debut and his first laps in a Next Gen car.

“As far as coming back, I think it’s week to week,” said Jones during the Dover event.  “My injury, fortunately, is on the mild side … so we’ll just have to see how it’s healing up and how I’m feeling. Again, I’m feeling better and better every day.”

Heim started 32nd and finished 25th at Dover, but stayed out of trouble all afternoon and completed an incident-free day, despite ending up three laps down. He pulled double duty then between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Cup Series, driving for Sam Hunt Racing on the Xfinity side.

The Marietta, Ga., native will pull double duty again this weekend at Kansas. However, this time he’ll be in his full-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride for TRICON Garage in addition to the Cup race.

Heim, 21, has made four Truck Series starts at Kansas, earning a pair of top-fives and three top-10 finishes. His best Truck Series finish there was a runner-up effort last season, while he has two ARCA Menards Series wins, five top fives and 240 ARCA laps led in six ARCA appearances at the 1.5-mile oval.

In his pursuit of the Truck Series championship, Heim currently sits second in the point standings and has yet to finish outside the top 10 this year in seven races.

Coverage of the Truck Series’ Heart of America 200 is slated for 8 p.m. ET Saturday night, May 4, on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Sunday’s Cup Series AdventHealth 400 will be broadcast at 3 p.m. ET May 5, also on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.