Erik Jones scored his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in his 100th start when he took the checkered flag in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Driving a car that was painted up like the car he won his first Late Model race early in his racing career, Jones took the victory by 4.1-seconds over Kyle Larson.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into this race team, it doesn’t get any better,” Jones said as he celebrated the win.
Jones led twice for 79 laps. including the final 41.
“It’s gonna look damn good to see my face on that trophy,” Jones laughed.
Larson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon completed the first 10 finishers.
With his third-place run, Kyle Busch clinched the regular-season title, which will give him a 15-point bonus heading into the playoffs.
Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman are tied for the final playoff spot with Jimmie Johnson 18 points below the cutline.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ends the regular season next Sunday with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
How Jones Won: Jones had to hold off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in the closing laps. Busch tried his best to make up ground and break Larson’s momentum but once he got into the wall it ended his effort and Jones was able to drive away for the crown jewel win.
Who Had a Good Day: Larson scored his ninth runner-up finish since his last win at Richmond in September 2017…Kyle Busch had his best finish in the last six races of 2019 after starting in the rear because of an engine change…Harvick notched his seventh straight Darlington top-10 finish…DiBenedetto has finished in the top-10 in six of the last 10 races this season.
Who Had a Bad Day: A multi-car accident with 93 laps to go when Daniel Hemric had a tire go down swept up William Byron, Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon, Kurt Busch, who led 94 laps, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin all involved and receiving damage to their cars.
What Else Happened: A rain delay of more than three hours pushed the start of the race just past 10 p.m. ET and completely changed track conditions. Cool conditions combined with the rubber being washed off the racing surface made things treacherous in the early going and accelerated even more tires wearing out. Drivers found new ways to get around Darlington with the 550 horsepower version of the rules package being used for the first time, which added even more unknowns to the already grueling 500-mile affair.
Quotable: “That’s what I needed to know,” Ryan Newman after being informed that contact with Daniel Suarez caused him to spin.
Notables: Kyle Busch led a race-high 118 laps…All four JGR drivers have won races this season giving the organization a total of 13 victories…Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Aric Almirola all clinched a playoff spot on at least points.