Erik Jones capped off his 100th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win in the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Jones rose to the fore late in the race’s third stage and fended off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to take his second career win.

The victory secures Jones a second consecutive playoff berth and ensures all four JGR cars in championship contention.

Mother nature threatened NASCAR’s cornerstone Labor Day classic as a massive rainstorm truck shortly before the scheduled start. Rain eventually moved out of the area and NASCAR officials worked several hours to dry the 1.33 mile-oval before the race took the green flag just before 10pm local time.

Kurt Busch had the car to beat early and took the race’s opening 100 lap stage. The balance of power shifted from Kurt to Kyle late in the second stage. Kyle took the lead on Lap 160 and cruised to an easy win aided by a late yellow for a crash by BJ McLeod.

He re-emerged as the race leader following during the stage break ahead of Jones, Larson and with teammate Denny Hamlin and pole-sitter William Bryon rounding out the top five.

Busch kept his stranglehold on the field throughout the next stint keeping Jones at bay while Hamlin completed a JGR lockout of the top three. The lead grew to 1.8 seconds over the stint laps before the final round of pitstops began.

The first to draw blood was Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski on Lap 249. His attempt to pit proved futile as he missed the pit entrance, forcing a second attempt to get onto pit road.

Several drivers pitted between laps 250-258 while the top two of Jones and Busch stretched out to Lap 258. A clean stop kept Busch in the lead saw his stable lead erased with Jones hot on his tail.

The race for the lead was slowed on Lap 275 when Daniel Hemric spun after cutting a tyre. The chain reaction swept up Michael McDowell along with front-runners Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Byron.

The yellow saw Larson leapfrog the JGR Toyotas with a quick stop and Jones move ahead of Busch to restart on the front row.

Larson and Jones swapped the top spot several times before Jones took complete control on Lap 283.

Jones maintained a firm lead over Larson throughout the stretch while Kyle Busch held onto third ahead of Stewart Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

The final round of stops saw a role-reversal from the previous round as Jones held onto the point with a slim lead over Kyle Busch.

The lead see-sawed over the final 30 laps as Busch bided his time for a late charge. He picked up the pace in the final few laps but hit a double whammy after nicking the wall twice in the final two laps.

That allowed Larson to take over the runner up position and secured the win for Jones.

Larson’s second-place locked him into the playoffs, while Kyle Busch’s third-place finish clinched him the regular season championship.

Former series champions Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five while Clint Bowyer netted a much-needed sixth-place finish to move eight points above the cut line heading into Indianapolis.

Kurt Busch ended the night in seventh place after winning the first stage while Matt DiBenedetto gently notched an eighth-place finish.

Completing the top ten were Paul Menard and Austin Dillon.

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