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story.lead_photo.caption In this Aug. 8 file photo, Erik Jones waits to enter his car before a NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. Photo by Associated Press / News Tribune.

Some of the dominoes have fallen for what cars free agent drivers will be driving next season.

Bubba Wallace will drive for new team owners Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain will get a shot in the Cup Series in the No. 42 car, Matt DiBenedetto will stay in the No. 21 for a year before Austin Cindric makes the jump to the Cup Series in 2022 and Daniel Suarez landed at newcomer Trackhouse in the No. 99.

But the next "the one that got away" still hasn't signed with a team for next season.

That is Erik Jones.

The 24-year-old from Byron, Mich. went four-and-out for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20 car and the 2017 Rookie of the Year is looking for a ride.

Rewind back to 2009, Joey Logano won the Rookie of the Year award in the same car.

After three more seasons, Logano was left searching for his next team after just one win and no finish better than 16th in the points standings in those three years.

History is repeating itself. Jones has two wins and hasn't finished any better than 15th in the points with Gibbs and only lasted three seasons with the team after winning ROTY.

Roger Penske reaped the benefits of Gibbs letting Logano walk, getting 22 wins and a Cup championship in 2018 out of Logano in seven seasons.

Now, someone has the opportunity to scoop up a championship-caliber driver in Jones.

The similarities between Logano and Jones are striking. And what makes the quick trigger on Jones more of a head-scratcher is he's actually accomplished more with Gibbs than Logano did.

Jones' two wins are at marquee venues Darlington and Daytona, and Jones has finished in the top five more than twice as many times as Logano did in the No. 20 car (33 compared to 16).

Just like when Logano was not retained after the 2012 season, it was not surprising for most when it was announced Jones would become a free agent after the 2020 season because the high expectations were not met by either one.

But considering Logano's career took off in the years following his release, that should have given Gibbs some pause when deciding to keep Jones or not.

This was a chance to be more patient with a young driver that's shown he's capable of winning in this series instead of resetting with Christopher Bell.

So now another former Gibbs driver will start fresh with another team with a shot to prove he's worthy of keeping a premier ride.

Jones has gotten a head start on that with four top-five finishes in the six playoff races.

If Jones can follow in Logano's footsteps, he'll be a champion by 2025.


Chase Elliott is still really good on road courses. That was an easy 25 bonus points in the Riley Racing Challenge this week. That and Elliott's very good friend Ryan Blaney finishing fifth helped me edge Greg Jackson (708) and Tom Rackers (700) with 742 points. Taking a chance on Michael McDowell, Matt DiBenedetto and Chris Buescher did not pay off, though. Jeff Stieferman of Jefferson City didn't have any drivers finish worse than 18th, leading to a local winning score of 848 points. The cold and windy Kansas Speedway begins the next round of the playoffs.

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