NASCAR: Erik Jones set to return to Cup Series at Darlington

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE - MARCH 16: Erik Jones, driver of the #43 AdventHealth Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series  Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16, 2024 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Erik Jones is set to return to the NASCAR Cup Series after a two-race absence because of a back injury. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Erik Jones will be back in his No. 43 car at Darlington.

Legacy Motor Club announced Thursday that Jones had been cleared to return to the NASCAR Cup Series after suffering a spinal compression fracture in a crash at Talladega. However, he won’t be back in the car on Sunday at Kansas.

“Erik Jones has been cleared to race by doctors and approved to return by NASCAR, but out an abundance of caution, the team has opted for Jones to rest for another event,” Legacy said in a statement.

The team added that Jones will attend Sunday’s race at Kansas like he did at Dover.

Jones said in a post on social media that he agreed with Legacy Motor Club’s decision to keep him out of the car for another week.

Jones was replaced by Truck Series driver Corey Heim at Dover, and Heim will drive in Jones’ place again at Kansas. Heim qualified 32nd for his first Cup Series start and finished 25th a week ago.

When he returns on May 12 at Dover, Jones will be eligible to make the playoffs if he wins a race during the regular season. NASCAR has given him a waiver to make him playoff eligible despite missing races.

Heading into Kansas, Jones is 23rd in the standings and could drop to 29th or even 30th. He’s just 18 points ahead of 28th place and 24 points ahead of 30th. His low position in the standings after missing two races means it’s highly unlikely he’d be able to make the playoffs via points.

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