Eric Jones scores a historic NASCAR win for Richard Petty


Eric Jones celebrates a historic victory at Darlington Racecourse.

The playoffs for the NASCAR Cup Series began at Darlington Raceway with an event featuring mechanical issues, a fire and a narrow winner. Eric Jones outlasted Denny Hamlin in the final round to the checkered flag and broke a historic streak with no win.

Jones, who leads 43rd at Petty GMS Motorsports, won his third career race on September 4, 2022. That victory was 55 years to the day since he was last number 43 on Victory Lane at Darlington Raceway. Richard Petty was the last driver to achieve this feat. King won the 1967 Southern 500 on September 4, his fourth of 10 consecutive wins that season.

Winning this race was not easy. Jones first had to get one of the top two spots after heading to pit road for the last stop of the night. He then took over as the control car while Kyle Busch dealt with a mechanical issue that sent him to the garage.

Once the race turned green, Jones had to fend off Denny Hamlin, the defending Southern 500 winner, for the last 20 laps. Driver number 11 was close to number 43, and had the opportunity to use an aggressive move to take the lead. However, Hamlin raced his former teammate clean and eventually finished second while Jones celebrated a major moment in his career.

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This win was historic for another reason

Jones’ return 43rd to Victory Lane in Darlington 55 years after his last visit is a wild statistic. Although, it’s not the only reason why this win was historic for Petty GMS Motorsports and The King.

That win, which was a first for 43 since Aric Almirola took over the Coke Zero 400 for 2014, was actually a notable victory for that number. The South 500 saw the 200th time number 43 visited Victory Lane in the Cup Series.

Petty had 200 wins during his Hall of Fame career, but not all of them were 43rd. He won two 42nd place races—one in 1962 and one in 1966. Petty also won six first place finishes. 41 during the 1963 and 1964 seasons.

Betty’s father, Lee, also celebrated the victory after driving the 43rd vehicle. He dominated the entry at the North Wilkesboro Highway during the 1959 season, winning after driving 53 of 160 laps in the short track.

There are seven drivers in total who have won the Cup Series race while driving for 43rd. Petty leads the way with 192 wins while Bobby Hamilton and Jim Paschal have won twice. John Andretti, Almerola, Lee Petty, and Jones have all won the iconic number at once.

Jones has many crown jewels

Eric Jones

GTEric Jones (right) has won the Southern 500 twice.

Jones is not in the playoffs, so this win did not affect the standings or determine which drivers would move into the round of 12 after Bristol Motor Speedway. But what I did was add another crown jewel to his collection.

Jones has only had three victories in his career, but two of them are among the most important in the sport. He took two wins in the Southern 500 – one with Petty GMS Motorsports (2022) and one with Joe Gibbs Racing (2019). His other win, which was his career first, was the 2018 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

With this Crown Jewel win, Jones moved up the leaderboard ever. He broke the tie with Michael McDowell (Daytona 500), Austin Cendrick (Daytona 500), and Joey Logano (Daytona 500). Jones has now joined Austin Dillon (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600) and Kurt Busch (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600) as active drivers with two Crown Jewel wins.

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