Jones puts No. 43 back in Victory Lane

Sunday night south of the 500 at Darlington Raceway kicked off the playoff fight of the NASCAR Cup Series and gave the standings a nice change of pace at the same time. The long and demanding race hit many of the qualifying contenders hard with the entire qualifying half of the field failing to finish 15th. Eric Jones The opportunity he needed to take advantage of the pace he’s had all season to put his car into Victory Lane, taking the long-awaited 200th win for 43rd. It was a rare playoff win for a team not playing, but it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the fantasy players who saw Jones put himself in Competition for victories multiple times this year. However, it does suggest that what has become a fairly predictable watershed shape in years past can be just as unpredictable as the rest of the 2022 season so far.

Many of the contenders find themselves with a lot of work to do in the next two races to ensure they are among the top 12 contenders. At first it was Kansas Speedway, where Kurt Busch He won earlier this season. Austin CendrickAnd the Austin DillonAnd the Chase Brisco And the Kevin Harvick They all sit below the twelfth and final transfer spot after Darlington with work to be done in the next two races to advance to the next round. Only 21 points separate the seven drivers at the bottom, and a lot can still happen in what was very unexpected

Sunday night south of the 500 at Darlington Raceway kicked off the playoff fight of the NASCAR Cup Series and gave the standings a nice change of pace at the same time. The long and demanding race hit many of the qualifying contenders hard with the entire qualifying half of the field failing to finish 15th. Eric Jones The opportunity he needed to take advantage of the pace he’s had all season to put his car into Victory Lane, taking the long-awaited 200th win for 43rd. It was a rare playoff win for a team not playing, but it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the fantasy players who saw Jones put himself in Competition for victories multiple times this year. However, it does suggest that what has become a fairly predictable watershed shape in years past can be just as unpredictable as the rest of the 2022 season so far.

Many of the contenders find themselves with a lot of work to do in the next two races to ensure they are among the top 12 contenders. At first it was Kansas Speedway, where Kurt Busch He won earlier this season. Austin CendrickAnd the Austin DillonAnd the Chase Brisco And the Kevin Harvick They all sit below the twelfth and final transfer spot after Darlington with work to be done in the next two races to advance to the next round. Only 21 points separate the seven drivers below, and a lot could still happen in a year that was highly unpredictable. After Darlington, each team will take a deep breath and try to reset themselves and focus forward and make sure they deliver the consistent pace they need without errors to see themselves through the next round of elimination races.

Raising the level of

Eric Jones – After a huge step forward in competitiveness and knocking on the door to winning all season, Jones The job was done Sunday night in Darlington, claiming his third win in the series. The victory was a 200th for 43rd place and came at one of NASCAR’s most legendary circuits. A timely warning after a small mishap gave Jones the track position he needs to keep his car in the top five until the finish. From there, Jones’ speed and lack of errors made him inherit the lead after the drivers at the front had to leave the service due to mechanical issues. Jones continued to press ahead with the final restart of the race, emerging with the lead, stemming the stress of the late race Denny Hamlin To win for the first time since 2014, becoming the 17th different winner this season.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin sidestepped the trouble that plagued many of the playoffs in Darlington to battle for second place to start a playoff chase. Car #11 was one of the fastest cars throughout the race but only completed six laps. However, Hamlin avoided all the errors and mechanical problems that plagued so much of the field to score his third best of five in the last five races. Sunday night’s efforts capitalized on several of his rivals’ problems and left Hamlin third in the playoff standings by 30 points to return to the elimination zone. Hamlin’s consistent pace over the last two months could make him a favorite this week in Kansas where he finished fourth after starting in 18th earlier this season.

Joey Logano Darlington has been a good place for Lugano this season. Spring race won, shaken William Byron From the lead with only a few miles remaining. Lugano was just as fast on a return visit last week as well. The Penske driver drove 64 laps and spent almost the entire night racing among the top 10. He finished the race in 4th place, an impressive result considering the number of his playoff competitors struggled throughout the race. With two races remaining in the opening round of qualifying, Lugano now leads the qualifying standings with a six-point advantage. Byron per second. Lugano now turns his focus to Kansas, where he has won three times. He started 34th and finished 17th on his first visit of the season to the track.

William Byron – Byron started the return visit to Darlington right out front as he sought to redeem himself from being moved from the lead there in late spring. He qualified well and quickly moved to the top where he remained to claim the first stage win of the night. However, bad luck for Hendrick’s team also hit Byron as he felt engine problems similar to those that hampered his teammate Kyle Larson. Team #24 worked out the problem and kept #24 on the track, but the initial speed that Byron used to his advantage left him for the rest of the race. However, he kept playing and his eighth place finish was a huge boost to him in the play-off battle with several other contenders facing bigger problems. He is now second among 16 playoff contenders.

discount

Kyle Bush – Bush snatched his victory in the third stage this year and the additional match point that comes with him in the second part on Sunday evening. Race among the top five through the first two thirds of the race and then stop his teammate Martin Truex Jr. In a late reboot in the second part of the point pocket. The night turned into a disaster in the last few miles. Immediately after fellow Truex exited the race, and Bosch seemed in a position to inherit the inevitable victory, smoke began rising from the No. 18 exhaust as he traded under caution. With his engine expiring, Bush headed straight to the garage and was out of the race on a terrible start to his playoff chase. Bush took two wins in Kansas and drove 18 laps before finishing third in the spring race.

Kevin Harvick Harvick was one of many playoff contenders who had problems out of the gate. He was building a top ten finalist when his car caught fire and his day was over. Harvick managed to get out of the car to safety before the fire was extinguished, but his night was over and his playoff matches got off to a horrific start. Harvick has racked up three career victories in Kansas and will be hoping for another this week to recover quickly from DNF on Sunday and secure his future in the next round of elimination races. He is sitting 13 points behind the cut-off line for the next round of qualifying and will need a smooth race this week to avoid heading to Bristol in a must-have position to keep his championship hopes alive.

Chase Elliot – Elliott’s playoff point feature virtually erased on Sunday night in Darlington. The former hero contacted the outer wall and lost control before it hit him Chase Brisco. Elliott drove the car into a pit road with the right-back reverse for repairs, but the team was unable to pass the overhaul before the damaged car policy expired and Elliott was disqualified from the race. He now has two races to turn things around and make sure he reaches the 12th round. He won Kansas in 2018 and has eight of the top 10 races from 13 games. He drove 10 laps there in the spring before he hit the rear tire problem, which put him in 29th place.

Martin Truex Jr. – A week after missing the playoffs, Truex was on the verge of claiming his first win of the season with a fast car in Darlington. With less than 40 laps left, and while in the lead, his car lost the power steering and then started to overheat. He immediately slowed down and had to dig a path just for the crew to retire the car with the water pump failing. Bad luck has been the story of his 2022 season. Truex and the team will continue to try to play a spoiler in the playoffs, but with the championship opportunities gone, they really have nothing to play other than race victories. Truex has two wins in Kansas and has not finished below ninth in the last six races on the track as well. Fantasy players know he will have to overcome missed season chances to reach Victory Lane this week.

Chase Brisco Briscoe needed a confident start to qualifying, preferably in 10th place. This goal became impossible early on when Briscoe emerged Chase Elliotspinning car. The Briscoe machine suffered extensive damage to the front end and lost laps to the leaders while the team made repairs. The damage also hampered Briscoe’s chances for the rest of the race, and he finished four laps behind in 27th. Although he wasn’t the number one finisher in Sunday’s playoffs in Darlington, he didn’t have a points cushion to give him room for error. Briscoe is now 15th in the qualifying standings, 10 points behind the safety line. Briscoe’s job will be a big one to navigate the next two races and climb up the championship standings. Of his three starts in Kansas, his average finish was only 21.0.

Biggest surprisee

Kyle Larson – For the second week in a row, Larson heard something in the engine only due to a mechanical issue in the back of his head and forcing the Number 5 to dig the road. Unlike Daytona, the team put him back on track to make up laps. He was several laps behind as the situation worsened. Things took another wrong turn in the second stage when he spun and made contact with the wall. However, the team’s persistence kept him on the right track, and he eventually got back to the first lap and held up strong through the rest of the long race to save 12th place. Larson won the Kansas race last fall and finished second last spring, and the team’s perseverance on Sunday in Darlington may have saved his championship hopes. Hendrik must quickly solve the engine problem.

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