The former Kingsport Speedway regular and Lonesome Pine Raceway champion posted on social media he will be the driver of the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet for the upcoming Monster Energy Cup Series race on NASCAR’s largest track.
Jones, a 22-year-old from Sevierville, has a win in his only Talladega start — an ARCA Series race in 2015. It’s the same car Justin Haley drove to victory in the last NASCAR restrictor-plate race at Daytona in July.
“This team won the race with the rain delay, but they’ve shown speed at the big tracks,” Jones said. “With plate racing, it’s about staying out of trouble and being there at the end.”
It will be Jones’ fourth career Cup Series start, but his first this season. He feels confident getting back into the car even though the racing at Talladega is highly unpredictable. The wide-open style of racing is something the owner of Blake Jones Indoor Racing Center in Pigeon Forge looks forward to.
“Talladega is a lot of fun. These race cars should have similar speeds to the ARCA car when I won there,” Jones said. “Speedway racing is something I enjoy. It’s one of the only places you’re wide open all the time. The draft will be a little challenging, getting used to how fast-paced everything is, but I’m ready to go.”
Although a proven winner on the short tracks, Jones has just eight combined starts in NASCAR national series competition. A big goal in practice is earning the trust of his fellow racers since drivers working together in the draft is a huge key to success on the plate tracks.
“As a rule of thumb, they’re not going to want to work with a guy with a yellow stripe (for a rookie driver) on the bumper,” Jones said. “It’s part of it. Once it gets time to go, I don’t think it will be that big of a problem. Talladega is always filled with carnage and whoever is left at the end, you’re going to have to go with whoever is there.”