Erik Jones Tames Darlington
Author: THE BLOCK
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Team Chevy's Erik Jones scored the 200th Cup Series win for the famous No. 43 car at Darlington Raceway on Sunday.
Jones won his second Cook Out Southern 500 at the egg-shaped, 1.33-mile South Carolina oval behind the wheel of a Petty GMS Camaro ZL1, scoring the first win for car co-owner "The King" Richard Petty and his No. 43 since 2014. Jones' win was also the 200th for the No. 43 overall, with Petty responsible for 192 of those triumphs, including the 1967 win at Darlington.
But while the numerology is impressive, it wasn't simply fate that carried Jones to the win in the crown-jewel event at the track "Too Tough to Tame." He started from the 15th position and maintained a spot near the front of the field, finishing in the top-10 in both Stages One and Two.
He worked his way into the top-five as the race wound down and inherited the lead on Lap 345 during the event's final caution period. When the race resumed, Jones held off multiple challenges and led the final 23 circuits to score his first win of the season and third of his career.
"Just so proud of these guys, Petty GMS and [the] FOCUSfactor crew," Jones said. "We've been so close all year, and I didn't think today was going to be the day. It was going to be a tough one to win, but no better fitting place. I love this track; I love this race."
Jones celebrates with his Petty GMS and Chevrolet teammates in Victory Lane.
Jone's victory marked the first for Petty GMS and represented the 16th overall for Chevrolet through 27 points-paying races this season. In addition, Jones became the ninth Team Chevy driver to score a win in 2022. Four different Chevrolet organizations have now reached Victory Lane this year.
The win was Chevrolet's 830th all-time in NASCAR's premier series, and Jones' fast car and unflappable talent behind the wheel helped him become the latest driver to add his name to that list.
"Man, I was focused forward," he said. "Honestly that's the calmest I've been in the race car going for a win ever, really. I think back to the last time winning here and I was driving my guts out; my nerves were pounding, my stomach was hurting, and today it was just business as usual.
"But man, so proud of everybody. Just what a dream come true. That's all you can say."
Tyler Reddick finished third to give Chevrolet two drivers in the top-three in the Cook Out Southern 500.
The Southern 500 also served as the first race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and playoff contenders represented the rest of the Bowtie Brand in the top-10. Tyle Reddick came home third, William Byron eighth and Alex Bowman 10th to give Chevrolet four of the top-10 finishing positions.
Jones' win was the first for Petty GMS.
Despite Erik Jones and the No. 43 team having narrowly missed out on playoff contention in the regular season, their historic Darlington win exemplified the strength of Team Chevy in 2022 and kept the Chevy momentum high as the season enters its closing weeks.