CONCORD, N.C. — Despite Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 300 taking more than five extra hours to get the green flag, it was all good vibes for Erik Jones, who won the first stage under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Jones used a power move to charge to the inside of polesitter and teammate Daniel Suarez in turns three and four, edging ahead at the stripe on lap 41 before taking the lead with authority in turn one on the 42nd round.
The next time by, Angela Ruch crashed hard in turn two, backing into the outside wall and drawing a caution that ultimately ended the stage.
Jones’ triumph was his sixth stage win of the season, after leading the final five circuits of the 45-lap stage.
There were two cautions that slowed the stage, first when Ruch spun off turn two on lap 29 and again when she crashed in almost the exact same spot 14 laps later.
Suarez hung on after being passed by Jones to cross the line second, with fellow Cup Ryan Blaney following in third.
Justin Allgaier was the highest-running series regular when the green-checkered flag flew, finishing fourth and garnering seven points to lock himself into the Round of 8 in the playoffs.
Daniel Hemric completed the top five, just ahead of William Byron, who also secured his place in the next round by earning five points with a sixth-place stage finish.
Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Cole Custer and Sam Hornish Jr. were the remainder of the points-scoring drivers in the top 10 at the first stage break.
Hornish’s drive was especially noteworthy, after having to charge from 31st on the grid due to the qualifying washout.
He cracked the top-20 just five laps in, but struggled to advance further before finally making forward progress following the first restart in the stage. Hornish finally cleared Ryan Reed for 10th with eight laps left in the stage.
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