RICHMOND, Va. – Erik Jones had never turned a lap in the Sprint Cup Series when he became a last-minute replacement driver for Denny Hamlin at Bristol.
Jones was flown in from North Carolina during a lengthy rain delay in Sunday's race because Hamlin had neck spasms. The 18-year-old arrived 5 minutes before the race resumed, and jumped into Hamlin's car for the remainder of the race.
NASCAR had to approve Jones as the replacement driver, something that isn't done until the competitor has at least turned some laps. But in the case of Jones, NASCAR was satisfied he was capable of driving.
Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck said Friday that Jones was approved because NASCAR got a good look at him at Bristol in the Xfinity Series race a day earlier.