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NASCAR at Darlington 2022 Results: Erik Jones Edges Denny Hamlin in Playoff Opener

Erin WalshSeptember 5, 2022

AP Photo/Mike Caudill

Petty GMS Motorsports driver Erik Jones, a non-playoff driver, won the first NASCAR Cup Series playoff race of 2022 in the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, on Sunday night.

NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC

RETWEET to congratulate <a href="https://twitter.com/Erik_Jones?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Erik_Jones</a>! <br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/PettyGMS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PettyGMS</a> No. 43 car is back in victory lane, shocking the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCARPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCARPlayoffs</a> field with a win at Darlington. <a href="https://t.co/v1hFWokkZ5">pic.twitter.com/v1hFWokkZ5</a>

The win marks Jones' second victory in the Southern 500. He is also the 17th different winner of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and is the first non-playoff driver to ever win the first playoff race of a Cup series postseason.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott entered the race ranked No. 1 in the playoff with 2,040 points after winning the regular-season championship, but Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson and a number of other drivers found themselves ahead of him in the playoff standings once the night was over.


Cook Out Southern 500 Leaderboard

  1. Erik Jones
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Tyler Reddick
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Christopher Bell
  6. Michael McDowell
  7. Brad Keselowski
  8. William Byron
  9. Bubba Wallace
  10. Alex Bowman

Full results available at NASCAR.com.


NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

  1. Joey Logano: 2,065 points
  2. William Byron: 2,059 points
  3. Denny Hamlin: 2,057 points
  4. Christopher Bell: 2,055 points
  5. Tyler Reddick: 2,050 points
  6. Ryan Blaney: 2,047 points
  7. Kyle Larson: 2,044 points
  8. Ross Chastain: 2,042 points
  9. Chase Elliott: 2,041 points
  10. Alex Bowman: 2,037 points
  11. Kyle Busch: 2,035 points
  12. Daniel Suรกrez: 2,029 points
  13. Austin Cindric: 2,027 points
  14. Austin Dillon: 2,025 points
  15. Chase Briscoe: 2,019 points
  16. Kevin Harvick: 2,016 points

William Byron, who finished the regular season in fifth place, won Stage 1 under caution for his first stage victory since April. Elliott spun out on lap 113 of the 367-lap race and collected Chase Briscoe in the process to bring out the yellow flag.

NBC Sports @NBCSports

The <a href="https://twitter.com/NASCAR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NASCAR</a> regular season champion is OUT of the first race of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCARPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCARPlayoffs</a>.<br><br>Chase Elliott retires after a crash in the first stage of the Southern 500 at Darlington. ๐Ÿ“บ : <a href="https://twitter.com/USA_Network?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USA_Network</a> <a href="https://t.co/kq34jdcBjN">pic.twitter.com/kq34jdcBjN</a>

Elliott was ruled out for the remainder of the race as his team was unable to repair his No. 9 Chevrolet. Teams are given 10 minutes for repairs under the Damaged Vehicle Policy, but Elliott's car was too far gone to fix.

The 26-year-old added just one point to his playoff total after finishing in last place, giving him 2,041 points.

Asked what he'll need to do to approach the remainder of the first round, Elliott responded: "Run better than we did today."

Noah Lewis (NASCAR) @Noah_Lewis1

.<a href="https://twitter.com/chaseelliott?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@chaseelliott</a> on upcoming races: โ€œRun better than we did today.โ€ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/ymNm0NAqDV">pic.twitter.com/ymNm0NAqDV</a>

After claiming Stage 1, Byron finished the second stage in fifth place as Kyle Busch captured the Stage 2 victory over non-playoff teammate Martin Truex Jr. for his third stage win of the year.

NASCAR on TSN @NASCARonTSN

STAGE 2 WINNER: <a href="https://twitter.com/KyleBusch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KyleBusch</a> <br><br>The No. 18 holds off his teammate and gets a valuable playoff point if he advances to the next round of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCARPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCARPlayoffs</a> <br><br>Free Pass: <a href="https://twitter.com/KyleLarsonRacin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KyleLarsonRacin</a>, he's back on the lead lap<br><br>The final stage of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Southern500?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Southern500</a> is next.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/0VbgFT536k">pic.twitter.com/0VbgFT536k</a>

On Lap 275 of Stage 3, Kevin Harvick's No. 4 Ford burst into flames as his front rocker panel caught fire. He jumped out of the car and was given a ride to the care center while the rest of the drivers continued to cruise under the yellow flag.

NASCAR on TSN @NASCARonTSN

HARVICK BURSTS INTO FLAMES! ๐Ÿ”ฅ<br><br>A breathtaking fire erupts on the No. 4 as he manages to escape the smokey cockpit.<br><br>Another <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCARPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCARPlayoffs</a> driver has major issues in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Southern500?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Southern500</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/FtHnwhPOza">pic.twitter.com/FtHnwhPOza</a>

While speaking with NBC Sports after being ruled out of Sunday's race, Harvick expressed his frustration with the NextGen car, blaming the "crappy ass parts" and calling the situation a "disaster."

NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC

A frustrated Kevin Harvick explains what happened inside the car as it caught fire. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCARPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCARPlayoffs</a> <a href="https://t.co/VK35Bal3kv">pic.twitter.com/VK35Bal3kv</a>

At the time, Harvick's words didn't seem like much, but more issues with the NextGen cars caused a wild end to Sunday's race.

With just 32 laps remaining, it looked like Martin Truex Jr. was running away with the race and was heading toward becoming this season's 17th winner. However, his No. 19 Toyota began experiencing mechanical issues, and he was forced to pit before being ruled out for the remainder of the race.

NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC

Martin Truex Jr. has overheating issues, allowing Kyle Busch to pass him for the lead!<br><br>Less than 30 laps to go in the Southern 500 at <a href="https://twitter.com/TooToughToTame?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TooToughToTame</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCARPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCARPlayoffs</a> <br><br>๐Ÿ“บ : <a href="https://twitter.com/USA_Network?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USA_Network</a> <a href="https://t.co/ME1DCSDyNF">pic.twitter.com/ME1DCSDyNF</a>

NASCAR on TSN @NASCARonTSN

"It's been tough."<br><br>A dejected <a href="https://twitter.com/MartinTruex_Jr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MartinTruex_Jr</a> suffers from another heartbreak this season from the lead of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Southern500?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Southern500</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/O7DkzLz0VC">pic.twitter.com/O7DkzLz0VC</a>

At that point, Busch passed Truex for the lead. However, with 22 laps to go, the race was placed under caution again as Busch's No. 18 Toyota also began experiencing some mechanical issues.

NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC

Kyle Busch's motor blows up! <br><br>WHAT IS THIS <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCARPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCARPlayoffs</a> OPENER!? <a href="https://t.co/WS4NWrUHOv">pic.twitter.com/WS4NWrUHOv</a>

With 20 laps to go, Jones took the green flag and held on to the lead for the victory. Denny Hamlin made a significant push for the lead with just six laps remaining, but it was too late for the No. 11 Toyota.

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will continue on Sept. 11 in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

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