Box Score Info:
Date: September 1, 2019
Event: Bojangles’ Southern 500 (Race 25 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Track: Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile Oval)
Format: 367 Laps (Stages: 100 laps / 200 laps / 367 laps)
Start/Finish: 15th/1st (Completed 367 of 367 laps)
Point Standings: 12th (694 points, 289 points out of 1st)
Race Winner: Erik Jones
Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100)
- Erik Jones and the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry team started the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway from the 15th position and finished stage one in 10th.
- With a tight-handling Camry from the drop of the green flag, Jones slipped to 20th before making his way back to 13th before the competition caution waved on lap 35 due to rain in the area on Sunday afternoon. Crew chief Chris Gayle called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and a set of adjustments. The race restarted on lap 40 with Jones scored 13th.
- Continuing to improve on the No. 20 Camry under the lap 67 caution, Jones was able to finish stage one in 10th place when the stage ended on lap 100.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200)
- Jones started stage two from 10th and ended the stage in fourth.
- Following a routine pit stop under the stage break, Jones restarted the race on lap 106 from 10th.
- As the race continued, Jones moved up to eighth before the caution waved on lap 140 for a single-car incident. Gayle again called Jones to pit road for four tires, fuel and another set of adjustments. With a solid stop by the Sport Clips crew, Jones gained several positions on pit road to restart the race on lap 145 from fifth.
- Making one more stop during the stage, Jones was able to move up to fourth before the stage ended on lap 200.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 201-367)
- Jones started the final stage from second and finished the race with the win.
- Making a stop under the stage two caution break, Jones moved up to second for the lap 205 restart following another strong pit stop by the No. 20 crew.
- Focused on the lead, Jones remained in second early in the stage before taking over the lead on lap 283 with less than 100 laps remaining in the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
- Cycling the field through green-flag stops, Jones returned to the lead on lap 327 and remained in the position fending off teammate Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson to win the Bojanlges’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
- Jones led the race two times for 79 laps.
- The win marked Jones first win of the season and his second-career win in 100 Cup Series starts.
- The win locks Jones and the No. 20 Toyota Camry team in to the 2019 Playoffs and Championship Battle.
- Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch finished third with Martin Truex, Jr. finishing 15th and Denny Hamlin 29th.
ERIK JONES, No. 20 Sport Clips Throwback Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
Take us through those last 10 laps and what you had to do to hold off Kyle Busch.
“Well, it was just a lot of pressure. Kyle (Busch) is a great race car driver. I’ve raced him a lot and you obviousy want to beat him to win, right? I know our first win at Daytona was great, but man, this one feels good. Just getting back to victory lane, showing we can do this continuously. Man, it was a lot of work. I’m mentally drained, I’m physically drained. I knew he was running the wall and I knew I was going to have to go up there and try to hold him off. It took everything I had to do it. I was pedaling hard. Fortunately, he got into the wall a couple of times. He gave me a little breathing room for the last two laps. That felt good, but awesome to come home with this win.”
What does it mean to you to be able to withstand the pressure and prove what you can do?
“It felt great. I don’t know that there’s much more to be said. I was just locked in man. Tonight I was really locked in and really focused and really felt like it was our night once we got out front. I wasn’t in any shape to relent that lead, so it’s amazing for me to be able to hold off Kyle (Busch). It’s really cool just with the history we have with Kyle giving me my first opportunity in the Truck Seirs and getting to race him for a win in such a big race. That’s pretty cool and something I’m never going to forget.”
As a kid did you ever dream of winning the Southern 500?
“At seven years old, when I started, it seemed so far away. It’s incredible. I mean it’s incredible. I’ve got my family here, some great friends and it’s just so cool to have him there and celebrating this with me. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Man, I never would have dreamed to be honest with you. It was too far out to fathom really for me to even be in a situation like this and just thankful for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), Circle K, Sport Clips and DeWalt and everybody who’s been a part of this and really stuck by me this year and helped us get back here.”
Is that the hardest you’ve ever had to drive, and how much pressure was Kyle putting on you?
“ Yeah, I mean, I’m wore out just mentally and physically – more mentally than anything, but Kyle was really running hard, and he’s one of the best guys out there. Our Sport Clips Camry was good, but man, I was pedaling as hard as I could and just glad to hold him off and to finally get to victory lane. I feel like it’s been coming for us for a long time, so it just feels really good.”
You had all the speculation this year about what’s going to happen next year. What kind of answer is this for you to win a crown jewel event like this?
“Is there anything more to say? I mean, it’s been a lot of doubt and a lot of speculation, and I put my heart and soul into this and this race team, and this is my living and how I want to make a career and what I want to do. It doesn’t get any better. On my list, this race is really high, and it’s going to look damned good to see my face on that trophy.”
When you look at this paint scheme, the throwback to your rookie season in the late model, to now be sitting here with a crown jewel under your belt, what does that mean to you?
“Well, it’s pretty special, my 100th start. I guess sometimes funny things happen, right, and 100th start we’re in victory lane with my first‑ever scheme on a big car, so it’s pretty special. Thanks to Sport Clips for letting me run that. That meant a lot to me and my family. My mom is here for this one and that’s great. But all my partners, man, I’m so happy for them, DeWalt, Craftsman, Reser, Stanley, Circle K, Interstate, Toyota, just sticking with me through this – it’s been a big year of speculation and maybe moving around and I don’t think there’s much more to say than this right here, so it’s pretty good.”
You mentioned the trophy and the iconic names, the biggest in the sport that adorn it. What’s it going to be like to have your face next to them?
“It’s going to feel pretty special. There’s a lot of great names on there, and this is one ‑ this race for me has always held a special place. When you think of NASCAR, for myself, I think of Darlington and this tough place. 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. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Next Race: Teams now had to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 8, 2019, for the Brickyard 400. The race is scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBC, ISM Radio and SIRIUS XM Channel 90.