Erik Jones delivers victory for Petty GMS Racing in NASCAR playoff opener

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports activities NASCAR Author

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Erik Jones noticed the 2 strongest automobiles within the Southern 500 go to the storage within the remaining 35 laps Sunday, and as a driver on a 109-race winless streak, he received a sense that he hadn’t had just lately.

“It was my race to lose,” he mentioned afterward.

Jones delivered the two hundredth victory for the long-lasting No. 43 automotive and the primary win for the new-in-2022 Petty GMS Racing group as he captured the victory at Darlington Raceway.

Erik Jones holds off a late cost from Denny Hamlin to win at Darlington

Erik Jones holds off a late charge from Denny Hamlin to win at Darlington

Erik Jones holds off late cost from Denny Hamlin to win the 2022 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and declare the two hundredth Cup win for the No. 43 automotive.

NASCAR Corridor of Famer Richard Petty left the late-night race just a little early however known as his driver in victory lane. 

“I really wanted to get a win for him, obviously. Richard has always had the belief that we can do it and I can do it,” mentioned Jones, who had not gained since he began driving for Petty in 2021. “Just to get him one was pretty special.”

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Listed below are three takeaways from the NASCAR Cup Sequence playoff opener:

Jones upsets playoff subject

Ineligible to win the championship, as he isn’t one of many 16 Cup playoff drivers, Jones made up Sunday for a season wherein he had hoped to be racing for a title.

“It’s frustrating in a way, but in my opinion, it’s a heck of a lot cooler to get a win at Darlington,” he mentioned after his second profession Southern 500 victory.

He did it by holding off 48-time Cup winner Denny Hamlin over the ultimate laps.

“I had a strategy, and that was to really drive in deep and goat him into hitting the wall himself,” Hamlin mentioned. “I wasn’t going to pass him without clobbering him or running into him or forcing him into the fence.

“Erik has by no means carried out something sideways to me.”

Truex, Busch have hassle

Martin Truex Jr. led 48 laps but dropped from the lead after a water pump belt broke, resulting in his car overheating with 32 laps remaining.

And then Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch dropped out nine laps later when his engine expired.

Kyle Busch’s engine expires late while he leads the race

Kyle Busch's engine expires late while he leads the race

Kyle Busch’s engines blows up whereas he’s main the 2022 Southern 500 with 25 laps to go.

Truex, like Jones, hoped to earn a win after lacking the playoffs. Busch was on the lookout for his second win of the season. 

“We deserve better, and no matter what we do this year, it seems wrong,” Truex mentioned.

Busch has solely two top-10s in his previous 12 races.

“The sun will come up tomorrow,” he mentioned postrace.

Extra hassle for favorites 

Busch lamented dropping the chance to earn an automated bid to the second spherical of the Cup playoffs. The 4 winless drivers with the fewest factors within the three-race spherical gained’t advance to the second spherical. Drivers do carry playoff factors (bonus factors for stage wins and race wins) from spherical to spherical. 

Busch wasn’t the one playoff driver to have hassle, as 4 playoff drivers completed exterior the highest 20: Chase Briscoe (twenty seventh), Busch (thirtieth), Kevin Harvick (thirty third) and Chase Elliott (thirty sixth).

Elliott crashed early however together with his playoff factors is still above the cutoff

Chase Elliott’s day ends after collision with Flip 1 wall

Chase Elliott's day ends after collision with Turn 1 wall

Chase Elliott’s day ends early after he collides with the Flip 1 wall within the 2022 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Briscoe received caught up within the Elliott crash. Harvick had a hearth in his automotive — a scenario that occurred in different automobiles this 12 months. Groups not construct the components for his or her automobiles, and Harvick stewed over the truth that the difficulty hasn’t been resolved.

“What a disaster for no reason,” Harvick mentioned postrace. “We didn’t touch the wall. We didn’t touch a car, and here we are in the pits with a burned-up car, and we can’t finish the race during the playoffs because of crappy-ass parts.”

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports activities. He has spent many years overlaying motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting Information, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Seaside) Information-Journal. Observe him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports activities NASCAR Publication with Bob Pockrass.


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 Richard Petty Motorsports Richard Petty Motorsports
 Joe Gibbs Racing Joe Gibbs Racing