On the day that Speed51.com will announce their top draft pick in the 2015 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes, it was announced that a former three-time top five draft pick will be making his first career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.


Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Thursday that Erik Jones would make his first start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry at Kansas Speedway on May 9th.


“I’m pretty excited and grateful for the opportunity to drive the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry in the Sprint Cup Series and make my debut for Joe Gibbs Racing. This is a really good opportunity for me. We are going to try to manage our expectations and if we can go out and get a top-15 run and gain some experience, that would be a great day for us,” Jones said in a Joe Gibbs Racing press release.  “I’m also excited about representing M&M’S, a great longtime partner at JGR and such a well-known brand. I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the M&M’S Toyota at Kansas.”


This announcement is a big leap for the 18-year-old from Byron, Michigan who made waves in 2012 when he won the Snowball Derby.


It is also a great example of how the history of the 51 Short Track Draft has been a gauge for short track fans to see who are the rising stars in the sport.


Jones first appeared as a #12 draft pick in the 2011 draft on the heels of turning many heads in the former ASA Late Model Series Northern Division by winning two races at the age of 15.


A year later he won the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour championship and vaulted up to #4 in the 2012 Short Track Draft.


The Snowball Derby win in 2012 bumped him up to #3 in the 2013 Draft.


He then went to #2 in the 2014 Draft after his second straight Snowball Derby win along with winning his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.


“Erik Jones is a great example as to why we do the Short Track Draft every year,” explained Bob Dillner, Speed51.com Founder/Owner. “He is like any college athlete that fans and the media keep their eye on from their high school days through their college career with it capping off by making it to the highest point of their sport. We all can’t wait to see which driver from the 2015 Short Track Draft will make that next leap.”


Currently, Jones is third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, only six points out of the lead. In his 20 starts in the Truck Series, he already has four wins.


He recently won his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.


The #1 pick in the 2015 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes will be announced at 8pm ET Thursday night.


– Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Director of Business/Midwest Editor. Twitter: @KevinRamsell

Photo Credit: Speed51.com

Former 51 Short Track Draft Pick to Make Cup Start