Erik Jones out-duels Kyle Busch for Southern 500 victory

Jim Utter
Motorsport

Kyle Busch, who started the race from the rear of the field, was closing on Jones for the lead but tagged the wall twice in the final two laps, allowing Jones to escape with his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the 2019 season.

The win is the second of Jones’ career, with his first coming last July at Daytona International Speedway.

With the win, all four of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Cup series drivers have now won at least one race this season. 

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"I mean I'm worn out, mentally and physically, more mentally than anything really. I was really running hard," Jones said. "He's one of the best guys out there. This (car) was good and I was glad to hold him off and finally get to Victory Lane. I feel like this has been coming for a long time so it just feels really good.

Asked what kind of statement his win was, Jones said: "Is there anything more to say? There's been a lot of doubt and speculation. I've put my heart and soul into this race team. This is my living and how I want to make a career and what I want to do.

"It doesn't get any better than this. On my list, this race is really high and it's going to look damn good to see my face on that trophy."

Kyle Larson ended up second as Busch limped home in third. Kevin Harvick was fourth and Brad Keselowski completed the top-five.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon.

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all of the lead-lap cars pit for tires and fuel and Kyle Busch was the first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 207, Kyle Busch was followed by Jones, Larson, Denny Hamlin and William Byron.

By Lap 230, JGR drivers held the top three spots with Kyle Busch leading the way followed by Jones and Hamlin. Larson ran fourth and Alex Bowman had moved up to fifth.

With 125 laps remaining in the race, Kyle Busch maintained a 1.8-second lead over Jones as Hamlin continued to run in third.

On Lap 249, Keselowski became the first to make a green-flag stop for new tires and fuel. He actually missed pit road on his first attempt and had to make another lap around the track before his stop.

Several more drivers dropped to pit road on Lap 251 as several more teams elected to make a green-flag stop. From this point, everyone would still need to make one stop for fuel.

Some of the contenders for the win dropped down to pit road on Lap 257, including Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch.

Once the cycle of stops were completed on Lap 260, Kyle Busch remained the leader but Jones was right on his rear bumper.

On Lap 275, Daniel Hemric cut a tire and spun, which triggered a multi-car accident that also collected Michael McDowell, Hamlin, Johnson, Kurt Busch and Byron.

All of the lead-lap cars decided to pit under the caution with Larson the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 282, Larson was followed by Jones, Kyle Busch, Bowman and Keselowski.

Larson and Jones traded the lead after the restart before Jones finally escaped with the top spot on Lap 283. 

With 60 laps to go, Jones had opened up a small but steady lead over Larson as Kyle Busch ran third. Bowyer was fourth and Harvick had moved up to fifth.

With 47 laps remaining, several drivers headed down pit road to make the final stops for fuel to make it to the finish.

Once the cycle of stops were completed on Lap 328, Jones remained in the lead but Kyle Busch was on his rear bumper.

On Lap 345, Jones put Joey Logano a lap down while he maintained roughly a half-second lead over Kyle Busch. Larson was closing in on Busch from third.

Bowman was forced to pit on Lap 348 for tires after tagging the wall.

With 10 laps to go, Jones’ lead over Kyle Busch was just over a half-second as Larson remained in third.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

20

United States
United States

 Erik Jones 

 

Toyota

367

 

79

2

42

United States
United States

 Kyle Larson 

 

Chevrolet

367

4.058

44

3

18

United States
United States

 Kyle Busch 

 

Toyota

367

17.168

118

4

4

United States
United States

 Kevin Harvick 

 

Ford

367

19.778

 

5

2

United States
United States

 Brad Keselowski 

 

Ford

367

22.999

19

6

14

United States
United States

 Clint Bowyer 

 

Ford

367

23.160

1

7

1

United States
United States

 Kurt Busch 

 

Chevrolet

367

23.605

94

8

95

United States
United States

 Matt DiBenedetto 

 

Toyota

367

23.940

 

9

21

United States
United States

 Paul Menard 

 

Ford

367

25.180

 

10

3

United States
United States

 Austin Dillon 

 

Chevrolet

367

27.556

 

11

41

Mexico
Mexico

 Daniel Suarez 

 

Ford

367

29.773

 

12

37

United States
United States

 Chris Buescher 

 

Chevrolet

367

30.039

 

13

12

United States
United States

 Ryan Blaney 

 

Ford

366

1 lap

 

14

22

United States
United States

 Joey Logano 

 

Ford

366

1 lap

 

15

19

United States
United States

 Martin Truex Jr. 

 

Toyota

366

1 lap

 

16

48

United States
United States

 Jimmie Johnson 

 

Chevrolet

366

1 lap

3

17

10

United States
United States

 Aric Almirola 

 

Ford

366

1 lap

 

18

88

United States
United States

 Alex Bowman 

 

Chevrolet

365

2 laps

 

19

9

United States
United States

 Chase Elliott 

 

Chevrolet

365

2 laps

9

20

13

United States
United States

 Ty Dillon 

 

Chevrolet

365

2 laps

 

21

24

United States
United States

 William Byron 

 

Chevrolet

365

2 laps

1

22

47

United States
United States

 Ryan Preece 

 

Chevrolet

365

2 laps

 

23

6

United States
United States

 Ryan Newman 

 

Ford

365

2 laps

 

24

43

United States
United States

 Darrell Wallace Jr. 

 

Chevrolet

365

2 laps

 

25

00

United States
United States

 Landon Cassill 

 

Chevrolet

364

3 laps

 

26

38

United States
United States

 David Ragan 

 

Ford

363

4 laps

 

27

36

United States
United States

 Matt Tifft 

 

Ford

362

5 laps

 

28

15

United States
United States

 Ross Chastain 

 

Chevrolet

361

6 laps

 

29

11

United States
United States

 Denny Hamlin 

 

Toyota

356

11 laps

 

30

77

United States
United States

 Reed Sorenson 

 

Chevrolet

355

12 laps

 

31

27

United States
United States

 Joe Nemechek 

 

Chevrolet

354

13 laps

 

32

52

United States
United States

 J.J. Yeley 

 

Ford

352

15 laps

 

33

17

United States
United States

 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

 

Ford

351

16 laps

 

34

66

United States
United States

 Joey Gase 

 

Toyota

349

18 laps

 

35

54

United States
United States

 Garrett Smithley 

 

Chevrolet

344

23 laps

 

36

32

United States
United States

 Corey Lajoie 

 

Ford

330

37 laps

 

37

8

United States
United States

 Daniel Hemric 

 

Chevrolet

274

93 laps

 

38

34

United States
United States

 Michael McDowell 

 

Ford

274

93 laps

 

39

51

United States
United States

 B.J. McLeod 

 

Ford

194

173 laps

 

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