For the second time this season, superspeedway racing was kind to Austin Hill in the Xfinity Series.
The Winston, Georgia native held off a small train of cars to capture his second career win in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Following Hill’s maiden win at Daytona in February, the Richard Childress Racing rookie has had flashes of brilliance with six top-five finishes, half of those being on road courses. The 28-year-old was able to one up his Atlanta result in March as he led a race-high 73 of 163 laps, en route to a sentimental win in Georgia.
Additionally, the triumph came after having communication issues that on pit road once the engines fired. The No. 21 crew had to give Hill a different helmet to fix the issue, but once he joined the field to take the start, it was a mostly seamless afternoon for Hill.
His success on Saturday can be linked to his years of experience at Atlanta throughout his racing career.
“I grew up racing here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I raced on the quarter-mile track in bandoleros and legends cars and I have a lot of wins and a lot of memories there. To finally win on the big track means a lot,” said Hill.
“Back in the spring I ran second and the last two years prior to that I ran second as well. I felt like Atlanta Motor Speedway owed me a win and to finally get it done means a lot. Our Bennett Transportation and Logistics Camaro was as fast as Xfinity internet today, that’s for sure.”
No sugar coating, Hill felt his No. 21 Bennett Transportation & Logistics Chevrolet Camaro was the best he’s had in his career, even better than his Daytona triumph.
“The things I could do with that car and the lines that I could run and whenever I wanted to get to the lead, I felt like I could. Right before that last caution my spotter, Derek Kneeland, said if you can get the lead, I’d like to see you get the lead and just control the race,” said Hill.
“Two laps later I got a big run coming off of Turn 2 and we set sail from there. I was able to control the lanes and the runs that were coming. My spotter and I were doing a good job controlling the lines.
“To win at Atlanta, a place that I grew up racing and I grew up an hour down the road, I can’t really put into words what it means. It’s so special. It’s top of the list for wins for me as of right now and something I’ll remember for the rest of my career.”
Coming to the white flag, Hill and seven other drivers had pulled away from the rest of the field as the race was defined by handling. Nobody made a proper move to take him down until Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick elected to forgo the top line and tried making the bottom work.
Josh Berry would also take a crack at No.21, but was denied after Hill went to the bottom.
From there, nobody was able to get a strong charge as Hill would cross the finish like over Berry by 0.111 seconds. The closest margin of victory in an Xfinity Series race at the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Unable to get his third win of the year, Berry continued his strong momentum with his fourth top-five in the last five races.
“I got a little bit of a run on Austin. I saw Daniel dive down to the bottom. Me and my spotter Jason (Jarrett) was a little too conservative there. I started pulling down and it was too late. I had to bail back to the top because the top was super good,” said Berry.
“It would’ve been really hard to complete that pass. It seemed like whenever you jump down to the bottom, the car behind you will just push you away and couldn’t stay connected with a run. Overall, it was a good day. The guys did a great job. Had a bad pit stop there, but they rebounded and got me back up front. Second place and a stage (one) win is a good day.”
Rounding out the top-three was Ryan Truex, a man who didn’t have Atlanta on his radar.
Thanks to Auto Owners Insurance, one of Ryan’s brother’s (Martin Truex, Jr.) primary sponsors, jumped on the opportunity to fund the No. 18 Toyota Supra.
Therefore, a sixth and final gig for Ryan this year was assembled. He had hoped of getting some draft assistance by Hemric in order to fight for the win, but didn’t have much to challenge Hill.
“The top few in front of us, I don’t know if they were more trimmed out or what, but I just could never get that run I needed,” said Ryan Truex. “Just kind of had to hang out at the top. I was kind of hoping they would have a big jumble in three and four and I was just going to run the top and keep it wide open. Just thankful to be here and hopefully I’ll be back for more.”
In terms of the top line being king, it reminded him of his time running at Michigan International Speedway in the Truck Series.
Ryan used Reddick as an example of how much the top can give a competitor the powerful edge when gaining track positions. That’s where communication between the spotter becomes instrumental in superspeedway racing.
“The big thing there was just don’t give up the top. We saw Reddick make up a lot of spots by going to the top and getting to people’s quarter panels. Really reminds me of truck racing at Michigan, you just can’t give up the top or you’re done and you’re going to the back,” Ryan Truex explained.
“Really just a team effort. Spotter means a lot. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and these boys do a great job at making good changes. Starting the race I was actually pretty loose and I thought this was going to be a long day. But they fixed it up and got the Auto Owner’s Insurance GR Supra tuned up and rolling fast.”
Although the action up front was a freight train, some drivers didn’t have the greatest of luck that ultimately eliminated them from the fight.
Among those included Ty Gibbs who failed to finish the race after a Monster Energy battle went awry.
On the Lap 93 restart, Riley Herbst’s No. 98 Ford Mustang was sent to the top groove and collected Gibbs in turn 1 after some assistance from Ryan Truex.
Following the contact, Gibbs tried keeping the No. 54 Supra going. However, he hit the wall once again in turn 3 and brought it to pit road.
While Herbst went on to finish ninth, Gibbs went to the garage with a 35th place finish.
It’s only the third time Gibbs failed to finish in 35 career starts. In all three retirements, Gibbs finished outside the top-30 and Saturday’s result equaled his career worst result in his young career.
“We had a fast car and just got a little contact and that’s part of it. We’ll just move on and go hammer down,” said Gibbs.
Gibbs will look to bounce back from his second DNF of the season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the running of the Crayon 200. Coverage begins Saturday, July 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.
Christopher Bell has owned Loudon in Xfinity, winning the last three straight races.
Stage 1 Results: Berry, Gibbs, Allmendinger, Brown, Gragson, Hemric, Hill, Allgaier, Jones, Snider
Stage 2 Results: Hill, Creed, Brown, Reddick, Allgaier, Jones, Gibbs, R. Truex, Cassill, J. Earnhardt
Final Top 10 Results: Hill, Berry, R. Truex, Reddick, Hemric, Gragson, Allgaier, Cassill, Herbst, Allmendinger
This article has been edited for clarity by Taylor Kitchen.