Erik Jones Wins Bojangles’ Southern 500 At Darlington In 100th Cup Series Startby Camille Jones September 2, 2019 1 comment
DARLINGTON, S.C. — Erik Jones claimed the victory in the 70th running of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway during his 100th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start.
Jones’ win came in the early hours of the morning, just before 2 a.m. ET on Monday. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Sport Clips Throwback earned his first victory of 2019 after outrunning Kyle Larson and his teammate Kyle Busch in the closing laps. Throughout the night, Jones led on two occasions for a combined 79 laps. The victory is the second of Jones’ Cup Series career.
“When you think of NASCAR, for myself, I think of Darlington and this tough place,” Jones said. “I’m drained, I’m mentally drained, I’m physically drained. I just ‑‑ man, I’m so happy right now to be here and can’t wait to celebrate with these guys, get back home and celebrate with my friends.”
Jones’ victory secures his spot in the 2019 NASCAR Playoffs.
Larson was able to reach the second position after gaining a spot just before the white flag when he made a late pass on Kyle Busch. The runner-up finish is Larson’s best-career finish in the Cup Series at Darlington.
“Erik did a good job on that last restart to get by me, and I was better than him all throughout that run,” Larson said. “It’s just I couldn’t ever do anything with him just because the dirty air was really bad. Wore‑out surface and the groove is already narrow, and it was just extra difficult. I felt like both 18 (Busch) and I were a little bit better than he was at the end, but couldn’t do nothing with him.”
Busch dominated the event, leading a race high of 118 laps. In the closing laps, he charged for the lead but made contact with the outside wall while dodging lapped traffic. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Snickers Throwback Toyota slipped to third at the finish.
“Yeah, when he (Jones) started to inch out a little bit, I was trying to save my right front because I knew my right front wasn’t going to make it the whole rest of the way without me knocking the wall down, and I was right,” Busch said. “I hit the wall with about four to go and then I hit it again with three to go, and that was ‑‑ it killed it that time. Luckily we were able to salvage a third, just dragging the fence for the last two laps.”
With the top-five finish, Busch clinched the Regular Season Championship.
Kevin Harvick finished in the fourth position, followed by Brad Keselowski, who claimed the fifth position on Sunday.
Clint Bowyer earned the sixth, followed by Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon.
There were seven cautions for a total of 35 laps under yellow flag conditions on Sunday night.
The largest multi-car crash occurred on lap 276 when Daniel Hemric’s car suffered a tire going down in Turn 4. With nowhere to go, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and William Byron were involved in the crash. Michael McDowell took the hardest hit as he spun across the track and into the outside wall.
“I saw the 8 (Hemric) start to get loose like he blew a tire and chased it up the track,” McDowell said. “I was already on the bottom and I saw the 11 and a few other cars on the top and they were just trying to get down and we all kind of jumped on the brakes. You’re so fast at that point when you jump on the brakes the cars get pretty loose and out of control. I think I got clipped by the 11 in the right-rear and just kind of turned me hard right into the wall and in front of the field, but it’s really unfortunate.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway next weekend for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, September 8. Live coverage of the final race of the Regular Season will broadcast on NBC at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com