By Bobby Markos
On September 4th the famous blue No. 43 returned to victory lane at Darlington Speedway, 55 years later to the date since Richard Petty last parked it there during the 1967 Southern 500. On this week’s episode of The Dale Jr. Download, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and co-host Mike Davis sit down in the Bojangles Studio with the chauffeur that returned the legendary ride to its former glory, six-year NASCAR Cup veteran Erik Jones. The win was Jones’ third Cup victory and second triumph in the crown jewel event, which he first won back in 2019. Erik also became the first non-playoff driver in NASCAR playoff history to win the opening race of the postseason.
After coming on to the national motorsports radar with a major triumph over Kyle Busch in the 2012 Snowball Derby, Jones had a meteoric rise through the NASCAR ranks as part of the Toyota Racing Development program. Along his journey, he collected the 2015 NASCAR Truck Championship, Rookie of the Year honors in all three of NASCAR’s national series (becoming the first driver in history to do so, mind you), and 19 wins in national competition. But, after the 2020 shake-up in the Toyota Racing program, Jones was left without a ride for the 2021 season and beyond.
On October 2020 it was announced that Erik would replace Bubba Wallace at Richard Petty Motorsports. After a season of recalibration in ‘21, this year Erik and the Petty GMS crew have turned things in the right direction with a win, three top-fives and 147 laps led. Tune in to episode 404 of The Dale Jr. Download to hear from one of the most promising young talents in the stock car racing world today.