Brandon Jones completes dramatic late-race pass to win Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington

Brandon Jones completes dramatic late-race pass to win Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington
#19: Brandon Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Supra 03 Dash Championship, celebrates after winning the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200. (Source: John K Harrelson)

DARLINGTON, S.C. – In one of the more dramatic races of the NASCAR season, Brandon Jones, driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, passed Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain with two laps remaining to capture the checkered flag in dramatic fashion in the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway.

The race was the kickoff to the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR at the track Too Tough To Tame.

“This is what is so much fun about this track,” said Jones. “This is a tough place to get around. You saw them really racing hard, and I knew I was catching them. We knew we were going to have to pull that big slider and that’s what you have to do sometimes to clear them. All-in-all, we had the Robert Huffman paint scheme. This is so big for Toyota. Myself, oh my gosh, this place is huge on so many levels on Southern 500 weekend.”

Over the final laps of the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200, Hamlin, driver of the No. 54 Sport Clips Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Ross Chastain, driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro for Kaulig Racing, competed in a close battled for the lead until they got tangled in Turn 4 on the second-to-last lap. Jones took advantage as Hamlin and Chastain made contact to go low in Turn 4 and pass the race leaders to take the lead before the white flag. Jones pulled away to win the race by 3.363 seconds.

“He (Chastain) was running his line and I was running my line. I thought I had a great race going there,” said Hamlin. “I saw an opportunity there to clear, but once I did, I just carried a little too much speed there going into three. Obviously, he (Chastain) got in the back of us and it allowed the 19 (Jones) to catch up to both of us, with both of battling like that. It was fun, it just didn’t work out.”

“We’re all fighting a lot of things, but to go up against a guy like Denny Hamlin, a future Cup champion. To go all the way to the end with him, I’m just proud of this group,” said Chastain. “I’m really proud of my group to come back after the first race at Darlington earlier this year and bring the kind of car we did.”

“When I made the pass, I looked in the mirror and I could not see anyone anymore. I knew at that point,” said Jones. “I never say anything until it’s over, because I’ve been a part of a lot of things happening to us that has taken some wins from us. I knew that if nothing happened that we were going to be just fine and win the race…I have won a lot of really fun races this year. This is up there with one of the best so far.”

Jones led the last two of the 147 laps in the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200. It was his first Xfinity Series victory and third top-10 finish in seven races at the track Too Tough To Tame. On the season, it was his third win and 12th top-10 finish as well as his fourth career Xfinity Series checkered flag.

Chastain held on for second for his third top-10 finish at the Lady in Black. It was his 20th top-10 finish of the Xfinity Series season. Ryan Sieg, driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet Camaro for RSS Racing, finished third, posting his second top-10 finish in nine races at Darlington.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for the Joe Gibbs Racing, was the highest-finishing rookie in fourth. Hamlin, competing in his first Xfinity Series start of the season, finished in fifth. With Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing, in sixth, Toyota Racing finished four Toyota Camrys in the top-six.

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, led a race-high 55 laps, but spun out as the leader to bring a caution with 30 laps remaining. Briscoe, who outdueled Kyle Busch during the Toyota 200 at the Lady in Black in May, finished his day in 11th.

As with most races since NASCAR’s return, the event was held without practice or qualifying.