“We’re very close and I hope we can put something out soon to make it official,” Jones told a group of reporters Thursday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he is competing in both the Xfinity and NASCAR Cup series races this weekend.

Asked if fans with Erik Jones No. 20 tattoos should be worried, Jones replied, “I wouldn’t be worried about covering it up, no.”

Jones said he has never really been worried or let the contract discussion with JGR affect him.

“I was very comfortable and knew the situation and knew where things were headed. We all had a good plan and I was going to continue to work toward being in the No. 20 car,” he said. “It never bothered me. I understand why (people ask the questions). 

“I’m a pretty straight-up guy. If I felt I wasn’t going to be back in it, I would have definitely trended more in that way. I probably would have alluded to the fact that I wouldn’t be back. I was always confident that I would be back and still feel that way. 

“I’ve kept saying ‘We’re getting there,’ ‘We’re getting there,’ and now it’s all but done.”

Jones, 22, said his team’s performance of late certainly has helped his cause.

Jones has four finishes of fourth or better in the last five races and has improved his points standing from 18th to 14th

Now in his third fulltime season with JGR, Jones has one win, 22 top-five and 44 top-10 finishes and two poles in 98 career starts. His first Cup series win came last July at Daytona International Speedway.

Jones’ return to JGR’s No. 20 all-but cements Christopher Bell’s move to Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 Toyota next season. Earlier Thursday, Matt DiBenedetto announced he would not return as LFR’s driver next season.