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Erik Jones Makes Comeback at Darlington: Healing and Ready for Action

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Erik Jones’ absence from the last two races—Dover and Kansas Speedway—stemmed from a serious injury he sustained at Talladega Superspeedway. During a poorly executed all-Toyota drafting move, he found himself in a wreck that collected fellow drivers Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin. The result? A fractured vertebra in his lower back, sidelining him temporarily.

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Jones’ road to recovery involved rest, medical appointments, and physical therapy. The first week was understandably tough, with soreness as a constant companion. However, he persevered, focusing on healing and regaining strength. By the time the Kansas race approached, Jones felt significantly better, but some soreness remained. The decision to delay his Cup return was made out of caution, ensuring he was truly ready for the challenge.

Darlington Raceway—a historic track known as “The Lady in Black”—provides the perfect backdrop for Jones’ comeback. Notably, he is a two-time race winner at this iconic venue. The combination of experience and success makes Darlington an ideal place for Jones to reignite his racing passion.

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Erik Jones’ Historic Victory at Darlington

Erik Jones

In a race filled with twists and turns, Erik Jones emerged as the surprise winner of the 2022 Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Driving the iconic No. 43 Chevrolet for Petty GMS Racing, Jones secured his third career victory and broke a historic winless streak for the car number.

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The Cook Out Southern 500 marked the first NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race of the season. Jones faced stiff competition from playoff drivers, but he held off Denny Hamlin in a thrilling 20-lap run to the finish. The victory was especially significant because Jones became the first non-playoff driver to win the opening postseason event since NASCAR introduced the elimination format in 2014.

Jones’ win was redemption in more ways than one. After winning his first Southern 500 in 2019 with Joe Gibbs Racing, he was released from the team after the 2020 season. Now, driving for Petty GMS Racing, Jones found himself back in Victory Lane at the same track that had saved his job earlier in his career.

The victory was also a historic moment for the No. 43 car number, which NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty drove to seven series championships. It had been 55 years since the No. 43 last visited Victory Lane at Darlington Raceway.

READ MORE: Michael McDowell Opens Up Explaining His ‘Lateral Move’ with New Team

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Moin
Moin
I'm Moin Akhunji, a passionate sports writer renowned for my unique storytelling approach. My expertise spans across various sports, notably NASCAR, F1, and IndyCar. I hold a profound admiration for athletes like Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. When I'm not crafting articles, you'll likely find me trekking in the hills, indulging in my favorite hobby.
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