Brandon Jones will be taking his talents to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 to replace Matt Tifft. The Lake Norman local will leave Richard Childress Racing following a 2.5-year tenure with the Welcome, NC outfit. RCR will downsize from 5 teams in 2017 to 3 teams in 2018.
Jones will replace Matt Tifft who will be joining Richard Childress Racing in 2018, replacing Jones. Just a regular case of trading spaces in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. One driver is taller than the other, that’s really the only difference. Jones has competed in the Xfinity Series since 2015 on a partial schedule and a full-time basis since 2016. Before that, he was part of the now defunct Turner Scott Motorsports and a partial truck schedule for GMS Racing. Tifft has been part of the Toyota family since 2014, racing for JGR, Kyle Busch Motorsports, and Red Horse Racing.
With his move to JGR, it is expected Jones will take his sponsorship from Rheem and their brands with him. Full disclosure Jones’ dad is the President and CEO of Rheem brands. The company has sponsored Jones for a number of races and has split sponsorship with Menards to promote the home improvement store and the Rheem brands you can buy there. It is doubtful Menards will move to JGR with Jones.
Brandon Jones’ Xfinity Career
Through his first two seasons as a full-time Xfinity driver, Jones has essentially regressed. In his second year with RCR Jones has recorded only 3 Top-10’s through 29 races. Down from the 12 Top-10’s he had in 2016. In 2017 Jones failed to make the Xfinity playoffs while recording 10 finishes of 25th or lower. In terms of trends, Jones is trending downwards which could be a sophomore slump but compared to his rookie teammate Daniel Hemric, Jones is severely slacking.
A move to JGR in 2018 will put him in the best Xfinity equipment money can buy. Equipment that won the Xfinity Series Championship in 2016 with Daniel Suarez. The team has also won 10 races in 2017, including a win from Ryan Preece at Iowa earlier in the season. Jones will be expected to contend for wins and a championship next season.
For JGR and RCR this is a parallel move for both teams in terms of driver talent. Matt Tifft and Brandon Jones have very comparable careers, comparable backgrounds, and futures. Jones isn’t a burgeoning Cup talent that Erik Jones was, on the other side Tifft is not either.
This is very much a driver swap and two guys just looking for better places. Tifft was asked to leave JGR, Jones wanted to leave RCR and the JGR deal is one you can’t pass up. It’ll be interesting to see if their performances increase at their new homes or if it was truly their talent and not the equipment.
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