DARLINGTON, S.C. — Erik Jones snapped a 109-race winless streak in Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway – and brought the 43 car to victory lane at Darlington for the first time in exactly 55 years.
Driving the Petty-GMS No. 43 car, Erik Jones also earned the No. 43’s 200th Cup race. The No. 43 last won at Darlington with Richard Petty in the 1967 Southern 500, his only Southern 500 win.
Jones took the lead with 23 laps to go – after Kyle Busch’s engine failed – and held off the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin for the historic win.
“We had a lot of good stuff go our way. We got the lead there with the 18 (Kyle Busch) losing a motor. And man, we’ve got a good shot if we can just get clear,” Jones said. “We had a good car, we just weren’t quite with the pace of some of those guys up front. And I knew – we took the lead, I’m like 20 laps, I can just run hard and those last two laps I was losing the balance a lot. I had been running really hard, but it was just enough. So just really proud.”
The No. 43 and the No. 11 are the only two numbers with 200 or more Cup wins. The No. 11 car has 228 wins.
Southern 500 Top 10 finishers: Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick, Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman
Jones now has two Southern 500 wins as his last win came in the 2019 Southern 500.
“I love this track; I love this race. On that trophy twice, man. I was pumped to be on it once, but to have it on there twice, pretty cool,” Jones said excitedly. “I’m so proud of everybody. Just what a dream come true. That’s all you can say.”
Jones’s win is also the first Cup win for the GMS team and the first Cup win for the Petty No. 43 car since Aric Almirola’s rain-shortened July 2014 Coke Zero 400 win at Daytona. He also earned the Petty No. 43’s first full-length win since John Andretti’s win at Martinsville in April 1999.
Erik Jones is also the first non-playoff driver to win the NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener since the playoffs began in 2004. Jones is one of 108 drivers with three or more Cup wins.