DARLINGTON, S.C. (WGHP) — The legendary NASCAR number 43 car was back in victory lane Sunday night with driver Erik Jones behind the wheel.
Most people still associate that car number with Richard Petty’s 200 wins. This win marked 200 for the number 43 in the NASCAR Cup Series.
For Jones and Richard Petty, this win marks a resurgence in the Petty name.
Confidence is a good thing when racing at Darlington, and Jones puts the Darlington Southern 500 high on his list.
“There’s a handful of tracks in the Cup Series for me that I know going into it…we can have a shot to win,” Jones said.
“We know it was coming. We just didn’t know when. And…it was one race too late to get into the championship run,” Petty said.
Jones ran near the front all race long and when two of his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates faltered, he was right there, outrunning Denny Hamlin in a race to the finish line.
Petty like Jones because he’s a lot like Petty.
“He’s so regular. He’s down to Earth. He don’t get too excited,” Petty said.
And Jones says even 30 years removed from driving race cars, The King is still the King.
“He shared a lot of wisdom with me and…it’s cool to hear what he thinks after watching the race, what I can do better,” Jones said.
Petty GMS Motorsports is a new version of the Petty Team for 2021, with GMS Racing owned by Maury Gallagher buying a stake in the former Richard Petty Motorsports team and forming PETTY GMS.
Petty sees no reason why the team can’t go out and win again this season
“They had 10 more races to go. I said, ‘well, we can win all 10 races…it’s been done before, so why can’t we do it again?”’ Petty said.
Meanwhile, many of the playoff drivers were left to make the best of a decent finish and move on.
“It’s really hard to come up through the field here, really hard to pass…you gotta be happy about it because you score a lot of points,” said Joey Logano, who finished fourth.
“It was a frustrating night…we wanted to make our car better, and we really, we really understood that…we just came to the point. It’s like…let’s just cut losses and just try and pass some cars and make the most of it,” said Tyler Reddick who finished third.
Jones is happy to play spoiler to the playoff party, becoming the first non-playoff driver to win the opening race of the playoffs.
“It’s hard to get attention in the playoffs…what better way to do it than that?” Jones said.