The news that Buckshot Jones has signed to drive what will be the #44 Dodge for Petty Enterprises in 2001 with sponsorship from Georgia-Pacific has come as a great relief to many within the team who feared that the intended three car assault on the 2001 Winston Cup Championship would have to be slimmed down to two.

The future of the #44 Hot Wheels Pontiac, which is currently driven by Steve Grissom, had been thrown into doubt when regular driver Kyle Petty announced that he was taking a step down to the squad's Busch Grand National outfit as replacement for his late son Adam. Mattel-Hot Wheels also announced that they would not be continuing with the team in 2001 and team principles Richard and Kyle Petty were fearful that their nightmare 2000 season would roll over and have an impact on their 2001 hopes.

Petty Enterprises were one of the first outfits to sign up for the all new Dodge Intrepid bodyshell and they had planned to run a three car assault for father and son combo Kyle and Adam and regular driver John Andretti in one of the most exciting line-ups seen in years. However Adam's death at Loudon in May crushed those hopes and the team was thrown into disarray. Kyle took the brave step of moving into his son's #45 Sprint Chevrolet in BGN and he will continue with the team next year in the Winston Cup. Andretti will also continue in the famous #43 machine although until last weekend there was still no sponsor, or driver in place for the #44 machine.

However Jones, whose actual name is Roy, came to the rescue and the team were visibly delighted to have their 2001 plans back on track after what has been the most testing year of all for 'The King.' Jones is currently competing in the Busch series after an abortive attempt on the 1999 Winston Cup.

As a rookie campaigner, Jones was somewhat out of his depth with his equally inexperienced family team last year and despite showing a great turn of speed at times, lack of results and money forced the team to withdraw after just ten events.

This year has also been a tough learning curve for Jones, who has matured greatly as a racer even if he is out of the Championship battle and the deal with Georgia-Pacific was another great bonus.

Jones will still be on a steep learning curve in what will undoubtedly be the most emotionally charged season of his career. He will be driving for one of the most revered names in NASCAR Winston Cup competition in a team that are desperate to succeed after several lacklustre seasons. The memory of Adam will also be a major driving force behind the team and Jones will have to use the experience he has gained in the past two years to help him deal with the immense pressure that he will find himself under.