Expectations were high for Erik Jones in 2023, coming off arguably the most impressive season of his NASCAR Cup Series career. For a while, it hadn’t gone quite as expected.
year both on and off the track for Jones’ team, Legacy Motor Club, has led to disappointing results. However, the team has seen a significant uptick in performance ever since the controversial departure of Noah Gragson from Legacy’s No. 42 machine, and the ensuing addition of Carson Hocevar as a sub.
Jones specifically has recorded an average running position of 10th place or better in three of four playoff races, after not doing so a single time during the first 26 events. This includes his best result of the season, a third-place finish at Kansas, and a run at Texas in which Jones was in the runner-up position for much of the going before a late accident took him out.
The reason for Jones and LMC’s struggles earlier in the year became apparent when the team announced it was switching manufacturers to Toyota in 2024, meaning it was no longer getting as much support from Chevrolet. Legacy seems to have found something lately, though, and if the move to Toyota pays off, the team could be in line for an even bigger leap next season.
In addition to the manufacturer switch, Legacy will be adding John Hunter Nemechek to its fold in the No. 42 car. Nemechek competes in the Xfinity Series, where he has won seven races in 2023, and he has past Cup experience in 2020, when he showed some promising flashes driving for Front Row Motorsports.
Jones, meanwhile, should be poised for his best year yet. He previously spent four seasons in the Toyota fold, between 2017 and 2020, but underwhelming results for Joe Gibbs Racing’s high standards forced him out. He proved in 2022 that he’s a playoff-caliber driver who was given up on too soon, and he has shown this past month that he can be dangerous in a car that’s fast enough to compete.
With Toyota, Legacy will likely see much more manufacturer support than it does with Chevrolet. Jones should have the fastest cars he’s driven since his JGR years, and unlike back then, he’s now on a team in which he is prioritized as a proven veteran.
Don’t be surprised to see Jones running up front a lot more often in 2024. A playoff berth should be expected, and multiple wins are a very real possibility.