Erik Jones wins 73rd Southern 500, Alex Bowman joins Andrew on the ‘Inside Lane’

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 4:59 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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DARLINGTON, S.C. (WTOC) - The round of 16 for the NASCAR playoffs starts right here at historic Darlington Raceway. Where 16 driver’s dreams to become a Cup champion or a repeat Cup champion starts on Sunday.

The Lady in Black, the track Too Tough To Tame, took center stage this past weekend during the 73rd running of the Cook Out Southern 500.

For the 16 playoff drivers and sold-out crowd, this is what it is all about. The NASCAR Cup Series trophy adorned pit road before the race, a destination in front of the windshields that only one team will arrive at by the end of the playoffs in November.

A spotter's-eye view atop the grandstands at Darlington Raceway.
A spotter's-eye view atop the grandstands at Darlington Raceway.(WTOC)

As drivers made their way to their cars, tens of thousands of fans anxiously awaited the drop of the green flag and the start of the 2022 playoffs.

Pole winner Joey Logano in the yellow 22 car led the field to green alongside Norman, Oklahoma Native Chrisopher Bell in the purple 20 car.

Fireworks in turn one and two added to the pomp and circumstance only to be damped by a quick rain shower.

After a brief delay, the spotters atop the press box back were back to work communicating with their drivers

Once the sun went down, the Joe Gibbs cars came to life. With Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr having a strong showing to end the second stage.

A scary moment here in the final stage of the race as Kevin Harvick’s blue number 4 car caught on fire. Harvick made it out without getting hurt, but the fire put out any hope of a good finish for this playoff driver.

Where there is trouble, there is also opportunity. Cue, Erik Jones in the 43 who took the lead toward the end of the race and never looked back. Jones was able to fend off a hard-charging Denny Hamilin in the 11 to take home his second ever Southern 500 win.

Race-winner Erik Jones and his crew talk on pit road ahead of the 73rd running of the Southern...
Race-winner Erik Jones and his crew talk on pit road ahead of the 73rd running of the Southern 500. (WTOC)

Jones, who narrowly missed the playoffs this season, still made history. Collecting the fourth Darlington win for the number 43 car, exactly 55 years after car-owner Richard Petty’s win in 1967.

At just twenty-six years old, Jones became the second youngest driver to become a repeat winner of the Southern 500, winning his first in 2019.

“I didn’t think today was going to be the day, it was going to be a tough one to win, but no better fitting place. I love this track; I love this race and I am on that trophy twice. I was pumped to be on it once, but to have it on there twice is pretty cool,” said Erik Jones, Driver of the #43 Chevrolet

Joey Logano now leads the points standings heading into Kansas, followed by William Byron is second and Denny Hamlin in Third.

Hendricks Motorsports driver Alex Bowman also had a strong showing, earning a tenth-place finish at Darlington. He heads into this weekend’s race in Kansas above the playoff cut line.

I talked to Bowman about how his strong run in Darlington will affect his team’s approach to this weekend’s race in Kansas.

“Honestly I think Greg and I are so motivated to run well right now. There’s nobody that is going to outwork us. That doesn’t cure all of your problems all the time, but it definitely doesn’t hurt either. For the next nine weeks nothing else matters but being as successful as we can possibly be,” said Alex Bowman, Driver of the #48 Chevrolet.

You can catch the full interview with Alex Bowman and more insight on this week’s edition of the Inside Lane found wherever you download your podcasts and on WTOC.