Darlington NASCAR: Erik Jones wins as Kyle Busch crashes in battle

Erik Jones survived late pressure from Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team-mate Kyle Busch at Darlington to clinch his first win of the 2019 NASCAR Cup season in his 100th start

While stage two winner Busch had controlled the early part of the final stage of the rain-delayed 367-lap race, he lost ground in the penultimate pitstop cycle of the race during a lap 274 caution and was jumped by Kyle Larson and Jones.

Ganassi driver Larson and Jones, who had surged into contention during stage two, exchanged the lead on several occasions at the restart, before the JGR driver was able to establish an advantage that he managed to retain through the final green flag pitstops.

But Busch managed to vault ahead of Larson during his stop and threatened Jones in the closing stages. He closed to within tenths of his team-mate's bumper before sliding into the wall at Turn 2 with three laps to go, causing significant damage in the process.

Busch was passed by Larson, who scooped second. Busch completed the final lap and a half riding the wall to end up 17 seconds off the lead but retaining third.

Having started the race at the rear of the field following a post-qualifying engine change, Busch had gained nine positions in pitstops during the opening two stages, assisting his rapid ascent through the field.

Larson, who led 44 laps en route to second, has now secured his place in the playoffs with one race of the regular season remaining.

Kevin Harvick finished fourth, despite battling a faulty battery in the second half of the race as well as grappling with left-front fender damage after contact with Chris Buescher.

Penske's Brad Keselowski led the race early on but ended up fifth.

After entering the race two points adrift of the playoff cut-line, Clint Bowyer (pictured above) vaulted ahead of his Stewart-Haas Racing team-mate Daniel Suarez and holds a provisional spot in the playoffs, 15th in the points standings, after finishing the race in sixth.

He is eight points clear of Suarez and Ryan Newman who, after ending up 11th and 23rd respectively, leave Darlington level on points either side of the playoff line.

The two made contact in stage two, as Suarez made light contact with Newman while they battled on the periphery of the top 10, pitching Newman's Ford into a spin.

Despite finishing stage one in second place and consistently fighting in the top five in the opening two stages, Jimmie Johnson's race ended in 16th and he is now 18 points adrift of a playoff spot.

He was tangled up in a lap 274 crash, triggered by a spinning Daniel Hemric and collecting stage one winner Kurt Busch, along with fellow top 10 runners Denny Hamlin and William Byron.

Darlington hosts NASCAR's 'throwback' weekend where cars are painted with special liveries to honour teams, drivers and culture from the series' history.

The start of the race was delayed by over three hours after prolonged rainfall that rolled in at the scheduled race start time, meaning it was nearly 2am local time when the chequered flag finally came.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 3h44m46.s
2 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 367 4.058s
3 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 17.168s
4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 367 19.778s
5 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 367 22.999s
6 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 367 23.160s
7 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 367 23.605s
8 Matt DiBenedetto Leavine Family Racing Toyota 367 23.940s
9 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 367 25.180s
10 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 367 27.556s
11 Daniel Suarez Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 367 29.773s
12 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 367 30.039s
13 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 366 1 Lap
14 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 366 1 Lap
15 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 366 1 Lap
16 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 366 1 Lap
17 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 366 1 Lap
18 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 365 2 Laps
19 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 365 2 Laps
20 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 365 2 Laps
21 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 365 2 Laps
22 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 365 2 Laps
23 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 365 2 Laps
24 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 365 2 Laps
25 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 364 3 Laps
26 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 363 4 Laps
27 Matt Tifft Front Row Motorsports Ford 362 5 Laps
28 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 361 6 Laps
29 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 356 11 Laps
30 Reed Sorenson Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 355 12 Laps
31 Joe Nemechek Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 354 13 Laps
32 J.J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 352 15 Laps
33 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 351 16 Laps
34 Joey Gase MBM Motorsports Toyota 349 18 Laps
35 Garrett Smithley Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 344 23 Laps
36 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford 330 37 Laps
37 Daniel Hemric Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 274 Accident
38 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 274 Accident
39 B.J. McLeod Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet 194 Accident

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Kyle Busch 983
2 Joey Logano 919
3 Denny Hamlin 877
4 Kevin Harvick 864
5 Martin Truex Jr. 862
6 Brad Keselowski 832
7 Kurt Busch 790
8 Chase Elliott 780
9 Kyle Larson 714
10 Ryan Blaney 710
11 Alex Bowman 694
12 Erik Jones 694
13 William Byron 683
14 Aric Almirola 674
15 Clint Bowyer 625
16 Daniel Suarez 617
17 Ryan Newman 617
18 Jimmie Johnson 599
19 Paul Menard 548
20 Chris Buescher 531
21 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 483
22 Matt DiBenedetto 467
23 Austin Dillon 454
24 Ty Dillon 417
25 Daniel Hemric 370
26 Ryan Preece 333
27 Darrell Wallace Jr. 317
28 Michael McDowell 304
29 Corey LaJoie 280
30 David Ragan 268
31 Matt Tifft 263
32 Reed Sorenson 75
33 Quin Houff 71
34 Jamie McMurray 19
35 Austin Theriault 10
36 Andy Seuss 9
37 Stanton Barrett 2
38 Casey Mears 1

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