NASCAR: Erik Jones out for Dover race after suffering spinal fracture in Talladega crash

Jones was evaluated and released from the infield care center after the crash

Erik Jones will miss the NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover after he suffered a spinal fracture in a crash at Talladega.

Jones was taken to a Birmingham hospital on Sunday after he was evaluated and released from the infield care center at Talladega. Jones’ car went head-on into the wall during a Stage 3 crash after contact from Bubba Wallace’s car.

Legacy Motor Club said in a statement Tuesday that Corey Helm would replace Jones at Dover. The team said that Jones had suffered a “compression fracture in a lower vertebra.” No timetable has been set for Jones’ return. In a post-crash TV interview, Jones said that he was "a little sore but I’ll be alright."

“Erik’s long-term health is our number one priority,” Legacy Motor Club co-owner Jimmie Johnson said in a statement. “It will be great to see him at the track Sunday and we intend to give him the time it takes to recover properly. I know Corey will do a great job behind the wheel for the Club. In the meantime, our thoughts are with Erik and his wife Holly - they have our total support.”

Jones released a statement about his injury to social media on Tuesday afternoon.

After finishing 35th at Talladega because of the crash, Jones is currently 20th in the points standings through the first 10 races of the season. His only top 10 of the year came at Daytona, where he finished eighth and he has an average finish of 21st.

When he returns to the car, Jones will have a waiver from NASCAR that would allow him to qualify for the playoffs if he wins a race or has enough points to make the 16-driver postseason field. Jones hasn't made the playoffs since 2019 but won a race in the fall of 2022. He'll likely need a victory to make the postseason in 2024 after his return.

Heim will make his Cup Series debut at Dover. The 21-year-old won three Truck Series races and had 19 top-10 finishes across 22 starts in 2023. He finished third in the standings after he was taken out of title contention by another driver in the final race of the season. This year, Heim has one win and seven top-10 finishes in seven Truck Series starts and is currently second in the standings.