NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway is not for the meek or the young. Or so they say. Sunday night-Monday morning, 23 year old Erik Jones dispelled that kind of talk becoming the second youngest driver to win the 70 year old Bojangles’ Southern 500. Jones led the final 41 laps and took the checkered flag by a little over four seconds ahead of Kyle Larson. Kyle Busch, who led the most laps with 118, had a late brush with the wall and fell to third. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
Jones won at Darlington in just his third start at the old track, and in his 100th career start. The victory for Jones was the second of his career, the other coming last July at Daytona. And with the win, he locked up one of the 16 playoff spots with one regular season race left next weekend at Indianapolis.
With his finish, Busch clinched the regular season points title. And based on points, winless drivers Larson, William Byron, Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola punched their tickets to the playoffs. That leaves two spots to be filled at Indy. Currently, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez are in those positions with Ryan Newman and Jimmy Johnson next in line.
Erik Jones post-race press conference