Jones holds off Mentor for Darlington Victory

“Hey, NASCAR! The 1990s called, they want their paint schemes back.”

“Oh yeah, and Mother Nature called, she REALLY dislikes you”

The beloved Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway played host to the 2nd-last race of the regular season. It’s a weekend where all teams honour a driver of their choice with a look-alike paint scheme from a certain area of NASCAR.  This year gave a nod to the 1990s.

However, before the green flag could drop, Mother Nature decided to play spoiler with a torrential 2.5-hour downpour over the track. It took another hour and a half to dry the track, pushing the 6:15pm start time to 10:05pm. Despite the delay, the sold-out audience returned to the grandstands around 9:30, knowing full well the race would run well past 1:00am… and people have the nerve to say the sport is dying. Trust us, those in attendance were ready to party like it was 1999.

LAP 1: Twenty-one-year-old William Byron was on pole and led the field to green, but before the first lap was complete he was overtaken by 2nd place Brad Keselowski.
LAP 21: Kurt Busch in the #1 made the pass on Brad Keselowski for the lead as Byron fell back to 3rd.
CAUTION – LAP 35: The yellow flag flew for a competition caution to check tire wear after the rain had washed all rubber and traction off the racing surface. Kurt Busch held onto the lead on pit road.
CAUTION – LAP 68: The #54 of Garrett Smithley was turned by David Ragan coming out of Turn 2. Smithley spun several times down the back-straightaway but only sustained a little damage on the left-side skirt. During pit stops under yellow, Chase Elliott’s crew pulled off an incredibly fast 4-tire stop that gained him 3 positions and the race lead.
LAP 79: Elliott lost the lead to hard charging Kurt Busch and then surrendered to his teammate Jimmie Johnson before settling into 3rd position
STAGE 1 END – LAP 100: Kurt Busch picked up the stage win along with the playoff point. Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top 5. Larson picked up the lead on pit road.
LAP 115: The battle for 7th heated up between Chase Elliott and Joey Logano and lasted for 20 laps. Logano was extremely aggressive trying to get the position, sliding in front of Elliott’s #9 and squeezing him so that he scraped the wall. Elliott went around Logano and reclaimed the spot, which only aggravated Logano further. “Alright, he’s going in the wall. F*ck this kid!” Logano said over the radio before closing in on Elliott’s right rear quarter panel just enough to make the #9 loose into every corner. Elliott finally surrendered the spot.
CAUTION – LAP 140: Daniel Suarez attempted to side draft the #6 of Ryan Newman on the front straightaway. When both cars got to Turn 1, Newman turned down in front and spun off the nose of Suarez. The Busch brothers of Kurt and Kyle were P1 and 2 off pit road, with Kurt taking the lead on the restart.
CAUTION – LAP 158: Corey Lajoie got into the fence and cut the right rear tire. Lajoie spun in Turn 1 while trying to get to pit road.
CAUTION – LAP 197: The #51 of BJ McLeod was pushed into the wall in Turn 3 by the #36 Of Matt Tifft.
STAGE 2 END – LAP 200: After passing his brother earlier in the segment, Kyle Busch won the stage under caution and picked up the playoff point, clinching the regular season championship. Busch held onto the lead on pit road.
LAP 244: Kyle Busch continued to lead. Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman rounded out the top 5.
CAUTION – LAP 277: The #8 of Daniel Hemric had a tire go down. He snapped right into the wall and then spun sideways down the track in front of the front runners. Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon, and William Byron were all collected in the wreck. On pit road, Kyle Larson inherited the top spot.
LAP 284: Erik Jones and Kyle Larson started battling for P1, with Jones coming out on top.
LAP 320: Green flag pits stops began with the lead cycling back to Erik Jones. However, Jones’ teammate Kyle Busch was right on his heels.
LAP 366: While trying to catch the younger Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Kyle Busch got into the wall several times, loosing time to Jones and a position to Larson.
CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 367: At 1:57 in the morning, the checkered flag waved for Erik Jones in his 100th Cup Series start to take his 2nd career win.  Ironically, both wins have been for Crown Jewel races.
RESULTS:
  1. Erik Jones
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Brad KEselowksi
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Matt Di Benedetto
  9. Paul Menard
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. Daniel Suarez
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Ryan Blaney
  14. Joey Logano
  15. Martin Truex Jr
  16. Jimmie Johnson
  17. Aric Almirola
  18. Alex Bowman
  19. Chase Elliott
  20. Ty Dillon
  21. William Byron
  22. Ryan Preece
  23. Ryan Newman
  24. Bubba Wallace
  25. Landon Cassil
  26. David Ragan
  27. Matt Tifft
  28. Ross Chastain
  29. Denny Hamlin
  30. Reed Sorenson
  31. Joe Nemechek
  32. JJ Yeley
  33. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  34. Joey Gase
  35. Garrett SMithley
  36. Corey LaJoie
  37. Daniel Hemric
  38. Michael McDowell
  39. BJ McLeod

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