Race Winner: Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Clint Bowyer started 13th and finished 14th.
● Reporting that the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang was tight, Bowyer dropped to 18th.
● He pitted from 18th at the lap-35 caution for tires, fuel and major air pressure adjustments to help the handling.
● Those changes helped and Bowyer moved to 11th, but he told the crew the front tires felt “numb.”
● Bowyer faded to 14th as the stage drew to a close.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Bowyer started 13th and finished sixth to earn five bonus points.
● The No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang moved to 11th by lap 130 and 10th by lap 137.
● Bowyer used a better-handling racecar and several quick pit stops to move from 10th to second by lap 163.
● His times in the closing laps of the stage were as quick as the leaders until he reported the car was tight again.
● Bowyer said he overheated the tires battling for position, and he fell to sixth at the stage’s end.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-367):
● Bowyer started ninth and finished sixth.
● He said the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang was difficult to turn in the opening laps of the stage, and he fell to 13th.
● Bowyer made a green-flag pit stop on lap 256 and moved to 11th with 100 laps remaining.
● A multicar accident and ensuing pit stops on lap 276 jumbled the field and saw Bowyer jump from 11th to sixth.
● With 80 to go Bowyer raced in fourth. He told the crew the balance was the best it had been all night.
● Bowyer pitted from fourth with 46 laps remaining and slid long into his pit stall. He returned to the race in eighth.
● In the remaining laps Bowyer climbed to sixth and nearly claimed fifth when the checkered flag fell.
Clint Bowyer Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We put ourselves back in (playoff) position, but, kid you not, yes, I want to make the Playoffs, but I want to make the Playoffs to get past the first round and to hit that thing in stride and race to our capabilities. Tonight was our capability. Single-digit finishes we’re capable of rattling off, and this was a good shot in the arm, a momentum boost for our race team going into that last race in Indy, and if we can do that again is what I’m looking for because, again, you always have to be looking down the road. Yes, the task at hand is right here in front of us, at the forefront of making the Playoffs, but, man, to be honest with you, my eye is on making those Playoffs and getting through that first round. It’s kind of like racing on this racetrack, you’re racing that guy in front of you, but you’ve always got your eye on the guy in front of him as well.”
● Bowyer earned his 11th top-10 of the season and his second top-10 in 14 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington.
● This is Bowyer’s second straight top-10. He finished seventh in the series’ last race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
● Bowyer’s sixth-place result bettered his previous best finish at Darlington – ninth in May 2007.
● Bowyer led one lap to increase his laps-led total at Darlington to 17.
● Erik Jones won the Bojangles’ Southern 500 to score his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Darlington, and it came in his milestone 100th career start. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was 4.058 seconds.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 35 laps.
● Only 12 of the 39 drivers in the Bojangles’ Southern 500finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch remains the championship leader after Darlington with a 64-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano. Busch clinched the regular-season championship.
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Sept. 8 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.