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Countdown to Daytona - 36 Days

(Cover Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By Adam Carabine

In case you missed it, StatChat is counting down the days ‘til the 2023 Daytona 500. Every two days, we will have a new article featuring one of the 36 charters of 2022.

18th Place – Erik Jones – 831 pts


147 Laps Led in 2022 – Compared to the measly 9 laps he led in 2011, this was a major improvement for Erik Jones. As has been pointed out in this series before, leading laps is not always the stat that shows the best driver, as there’s really only one lap per race that’s important to lead (the last one). However, the more you’re running near the front, the better chance you have of pulling off that last-minute pass for the lead. Surprisingly, only 23 of his led laps came at the Southern 500, the site of Jones’ singular win on the season.

13 Finishes Worse Than 20th in ‘22 – It was a wildly inconsistent season for Erik Jones in the No. 43 last season. It was either feast or famine, with some weeks bringing great finishes, and others leaving more to be desired. He had 13 finishes worse than 20th, strangely paired with 13 finishes in the Top-10 (including a win). The rest of the 10 races he finished between 11th and 20th. When you are in a car that isn’t always competitive for wins, maximizing finishes is paramount. Jones will want to find some more consistency in that area moving forward.

3rd Best Career Average Finish @ Darlington – Why Erik Jones seems to excel so much at Darlington is somewhat of a mystery. However, it is something for fans of the No. 43 to celebrate. With only 3 career Cup Series wins under his belt, Jones has won 2 of them at Darlington. He has an average finish there of 10.7 over 10 races, which is beat only by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

+266 Pass Differential in 2022 – So not only did Erik Jones pass 266 more times than he was passed under green, it was another huge improvement for him over 2021. The previous year, his differential was only +10. Any time you can stay on the positive side of zero in this stat is good, but Jones’ 2022 Pass Differential put him in the Top 5 of all Cup Series charters.

9,234 Laps Completed in 2022 – Another Top-5 stat for Erik Jones in 2022, he completed the 5th–most laps of all the Cup Series charters. A concerted effort to finish races, try to stay on the lead lap, and to avoid collisions, issues, etc. is important when it comes to searching for the ever-elusive NASCAR Championship. Jones somehow managed this feat while still recording 5 DNFs on the year, and as pointed out above, 13 finishes outside the Top 20.

Recently, Petty GMS Motorsports (under an expanded ownership group which now includes Jimmie Johnson) rebranded their name to Legacy Motor Club. LMC will continue in 2023 with Noah Gragson running for Rookie of the Year in the 42 car, and Erik Jones returning to the 43. Jones signed a multi-year extension last year.

Coming up next in the Countdown to Daytona series – Martin Truex Jr.!

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