Auto racing roundup: Erik Jones crashes playoff party at Darlington

AP photo by Sean Rayford / Petty GMS Motorsports driver Erik Jones celebrates after winning the Southern 500 on Sunday night at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway. It was the first race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and Jones became the first driver in series history to win the postseason opener after failing to make the playoffs.

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Erik Jones gave the No. 43 car a landmark 200th victory, along with maybe a few regrets to his old employers at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Jones moved in front when JGR star Kyle Busch blew an engine, then outraced Denny Hamlin — another former teammate — over the final 31 laps to win the Southern 500 on Sunday night at Darlington Raceway. It's the first time a driver not in the playoffs has won the opener of the 10-race NASCAR Cup Series postseason.

Jones won this event in 2019 for JGR, the team he raced for in Cup Series competition from 2017 to 2020. He came out on top once more, this time for Petty GMS Motorsports, a team owned in part by NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty.