NASCAR America: Expect big things from Erik Jones

Dan Beaver
NBC Sports

Erik Jones is one of two drivers making their first appearance in the playoffs. Alex Bowman is the other.

Often, knowing what one doesn’t know is the right first step. But Jones has some insight into what to expect this week.

Jones’ biggest obstacle will be “the pressure of it,” he told NBC’s Dave Burns at NASCAR’s Playoff Media Day on Thursday. “Making sure you’re doing everything you need to do to be locked in and riding, ready to go. There’s so many things you … can’t control, but you want to do everything in your power to make sure you’re doing the right thing.”

Jones was part of the Xfinity playoffs in 2016 – finishing fourth in the standings. He enters the Cup playoffs as among the hottest drivers with an average finish of 6.9 during the past nine races. That is second to Kevin Harvick’s 6.4 and ahead of Kyle Busch with a 9.0.

“I expect big things from him,” Kyle Petty said of Jones on NASCAR America. “I think he is a Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin-type driver that’s going to be in the playoffs every year.

“If he can make it as far as the third round – make it as far as that elite eight … that speaks volumes for where he is a driver, where they are as a team and what to expect from them for next year.”

Parker Kligerman has raced alongside Jones in the Cup series and knows firsthand what Jones brings to the track.

“What he’s been able to do in the last couple of weeks is definitely going to play into the playoffs momentum-wise and you’re starting to see what he’s capable of. And I feel like many of us that are in the sport who have raced against Erik and seen what he can do in a race car expected this out of him.”

For more, watch the video above.

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