Erik Jones might just be the most under-the-radar up-and-comer in NASCAR. Most fans know the name, but might not be aware of just how good the 21 year old has been in his young career.
Jones had no wins this season, but took pole position at Bristol where he would go on to finish second. He also finished the year with five top-five finishes and ended up just inside the top 20 drivers in the points at 19th.
Jones also accomplished something that sounds impossible. He has won back to back rookie of the year awards. He won this year's award, beating out fellow Cup Series rookies Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon, after winning his first ROY award in the Xfinity Series last season.
The ROY award is based on a points system that awards points for finishes in relation to other rookie drivers among number of starts, stage points and even conduct of the racer off the track. ESPN has a full break down of the system here.
"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 per Autoweek. "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' ROY win caps off a nearly perfect season for Furniture Row Racing as a teammate to championship winner Martin Truex Jr.
Due to financial considerations, Furniture Row Racing will not field the 77 car next year so Erik Jones will race with Joe Gibbs Racing in the number 20 car in 2018.