The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs began Sunday night with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, but the night’s big star wasn’t a playoff participant.
Here’s a look at the winners and losers at Darlington:
Erik Jones — The race winner upstaged the 16 playoff drivers on a night filled with a wide range of issues for many of the favorites. The victory returned the famous No. 43 to one of the sport’s most cherished victory lanes.
Joey Logano — Logano had a steady race, coming home fourth after leading 64 laps. He was disappointed he didn’t get more, but the night’s circumstances boosted him into the point standings lead after the first race of Round 1.
Christopher Bell — Bell had a relatively quiet race, but his fifth place finish gave him a six-position gain — to fourth — in the playoff standings.
William Byron — Byron finished eighth, leading 50 laps and moving to second in the standings.
Kevin Harvick — No one was more disturbed about Sunday night’s results than Harvick, who rode a flaming car to a stop on the track apron and later lashed out at NASCAR for what he called bad car construction.
Martin Truex Jr. — It was another promising but ultimately disappointing race for Truex, who remains winless this year. This time a failed water pump apparently led to engine issues, robbing Truex of a shot at the win.