Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced today that 17-year-old Erik Jones will split driving duties with team owner Kyle Busch for the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner's Champion No. 51 Toyota Tundra team in 2014.
Jones' 12-race schedule will begin March 29 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, while Busch will be behind the wheel for 10 races beginning with the season-opening race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Feb. 21. ToyotaCare - the complimentary maintenance plan provided with the purchase or lease of every new Toyota - returns as a primary sponsor in 2014 and will adorn the hood of the No. 51 for 14 races, seven with each driver.
"We are pleased to have ToyotaCare back onboard our No. 51 this year and really look forward to seeing Erik continue to develop as a driver with his increased schedule this season," said Busch. "Toyota and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) have put a lot of time and effort into the new Tundra that hits the track this year and it is going to make for an exciting season."
Jones made history last November at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway when at 17 years, five months and nine days old he led a race-high 84 laps en route to becoming the youngest winner in Truck Series history. The Phoenix win was the culmination of a five-race schedule which saw the talented youngster finish inside the top 10 in each of his outings, including a ninth-place finish in his debut in March at Martinsville when he became the first 16-year-old to start a Truck Series event since Busch in 2001.
In addition to his Truck Series schedule, Jones made three starts behind the wheel of KBM's No. 51 Camry Super Late Model in 2013, winning two of the most prestigious events in the country; the Winchester (Ind.) 400 at Winchester Speedway in October and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. in December. He became the sixth driver to post victories in both events and just the third driver in the 46-year-history of the Snowball Derby to register back-to-back victories. The racing prodigy also earned his first ARCA Racing Series victory in August at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway driving for Venturini Motorsports.
"Erik did a tremendous job for us last year picking up wins in both the truck and the Super Late Model while running a very limited schedule," Busch said. "At just 17-years-old he shows a lot of poise behind the wheel, provides great feedback to the crew chiefs and he has already proven that he can win on some of the biggest stages."
"I'm really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra and representing Toyota and ToyotaCare," Jones said. "I really learned a lot last year from Kyle and everyone at KBM. I felt like each time out we all grew as a team and at the end of the season I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream by winning in one of NASCAR's top three divisions. Going into this season, I feel like we have a great chance to get back to victory lane and go out and defend our Owner's Championship."
Busch added to his impressive Truck Series resume in 2013, winning five times across 11 starts. Over his career, the Las Vegas native has won 30.4% (35/115) of his starts in NASCAR's third division and has finished first or second in 49.6% (57/115). His career Driver Rating of 119.6 and Average Finish of 7.3 are the best in the history of the Truck Series. "Rowdy" enters 2014 ranked second in NCWTS history in wins (35), fourth in laps led (4,686), tied for sixth in poles (12) and ninth in top-five finishes (70).
Veteran crew chief Eric Phillips will call the shots for the No. 51 Tundra team in 2014. Phillips' 27 career victories ranks second in Truck Series history. The Illinois native has visited victory lane with eight different drivers (Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Travis Kvapil, Brian Scott, Dennis Setzer and Mike Skinner). He led KBM to a Truck Series Owner's Championship and a series-leading eight wins in its inaugural campaign in 2010. Overall in three seasons as a Truck Series crew chief at KBM, he has guided the team to 17 wins with four different drivers.