Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

Hill Wins Third Straight Xfinity Opener at Daytona


(Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Luck or skill, Austin Hill has figured something out about Daytona International Speedway.

For the third year in a row, Hill has kicked off the NASCAR Xfinity Series season with a victory, scoring the win in the United Rentals 300. The win is his seventh since beginning full-time competition in 2022.

“I really don’t know what it is,” Hill said when asked about his three-peat in his post-race press conference. “The first race of the season has treated me well. Everyone in the off-season is bringing their best stuff to the first race at Daytona. To win here, the first race out, says a lot, and to do a three-peat like we did, I don’t think a lot of people understand how hard that is to do here at Daytona. It is hard to win one race at Daytona, much less three in a row like we did for the season opener.”

This year’s win arguably took a little extra effort, battling back multiple times.

On Lap 37, John Hunter Nemechek and Jesse Love triggered a major crash down the backstretch, claiming 10 cars. Hill suffered damage to his right-front.

“I knew that I had gotten pretty substantial right front damage. Even my steering wheel was a little off,” Hill said. “When I drove off into the turn and I realized that I wasn’t hitting the splitter really hard, I’m like, ‘oh, maybe it’s not too bad.’ I went to work from there. Didn’t think about it really after the first five laps after the wreck, and after the damage repair that we made.”

Hill drove back and won Stage 2 before making a crucial mistake on pit road. He entered in third gear, several miles per hour over the speed limit. Hill slid through his box and got penalized with a safety violation and a pit road speed violation.

“I left it in third gear, and we were running second gear,” he explained. “We ran two red lights on our dash, and I’m like looking for my two red and I look down and I’m like, man, I feel like I’m going really fast right now. I look in the mirror and I’ve like left everybody. Then I’m coming up really fast on my box so I’m trying to get it slowed down. Then the next thing you know I slide through my box which I was having an issue with sliding into my box all day. It was real slick. ‘Bout ran the guys over and everything else.

“Totally 100 percent on me, and right after that stop when we came back in we put four tires on it, that was like a full reset for me. I literally kind of like reset my brain. It was like a new race for me, and then we went back to work after that.”

(Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

After a crash with nine to go, the door remained wide open. Restarting in the third row with three to go, Hill shoved Jordan Anderson down the backstretch and took the lead coming out of Turn 4. Several cars crashed behind on the final lap, leaving only former teammate Sheldon Creed to catch him. But the 29-year-old beat him back to the stripe for another impressive superspeedway victory.

Creed earned his eighth Xfinity Series runner-up and his third in a row dating back to Martinsville Speedway last fall. It was his first race under the Joe Gibbs Racing banner.

“Overall, a great start with Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota,” he said. “Everyone that’s been supporting us this offseason … a great start. Stage points and to start with a top-three finish, is a lot of momentum going for our team, so happy with that.”

Anderson finished third with teammate Parker Retlaff in fourth. Chandler Smith finished fifth in his return to Toyota.

Stage 1 Top 10 Results
  1. Jesse Love
  2. Austin Hill
  3. Parker Kligerman
  4. Anthony Alfredo
  5. Jeb Burton
  6. Sheldon Creed
  7. John Hunter Nemechek
  8. AJ Allmendinger
  9. Justin Allgaier
  10. Ryan Truex
Stage 2 Top 10 Finishers
  1. Austin Hill
  2. Sammy Smith
  3. Sheldon Creed
  4. Cole Custer
  5. Ryan Sieg
  6. Ryan Truex
  7. Riley Herbst
  8. Justin Allgaier
  9. AJ Allmendinger
  10. Brandon Jones
United Rentals 300 Results
Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Status
1 2 21 Austin Hill Bennett Transportation Chevrolet Running
2 14 18 Sheldon Creed Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Toyota Running
3 9 31 Parker Retzlaff FUNKAWAY Chevrolet Running
4 29 32 Jordan Anderson Capital City Towing/Bommarito Chevrolet Running
5 19 81 Chandler Smith Mobil 1 Toyota Running
6 11 98 Riley Herbst Monster Energy Ford Running
7 8 20 John Hunter Nemechek Pye Barker Fire & Safety Toyota Running
8 6 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet Running
9 22 9 Brandon Jones Menards/Swiffer Chevrolet Running
10 3 16 AJ Allmendinger Celcius Chevrolet Running
11 36 43 Ryan Ellis Heartbeat Hot Sauce Co Chevrolet Running
12 5 97 Shane Van Gisbergen WeatherTech Chevrolet Running
13 17 00 Cole Custer Haas Automation Ford Running
14 34 29 Blaine Perkins Ford Running
15 38 78 BJ McLeod Kales Truck Heavy Equipment Chevrolet Running
16 23 6 Garrett Smithley Z&M Harley Davidson Chevrolet Running
17 13 07 Patrick Emerling Phillips Hunt Walker Chevrolet Running
18 30 36 Natalie Decker Amped Fitness Chevrolet Running
19 33 44 Brennan Poole Finance Pro Plus Chevrolet Running
20 1 2 Jesse Love Whelen Chevrolet Running
21 20 19 Ryan Truex Toyota SmartPath Toyota Running
22 31 39 Ryan Sieg Sci Aps/Scrap University Ford Running
23 12 8 Sammy Smith Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Running
24 10 5 Anthony Alfredo Dude Wipes Chevrolet Running
25 4 48 Parker Kligerman Spiked Lite Coolers Chevrolet Running
26 16 27 Jeb Burton Golden Corral Chevrolet Running
27 26 10 Daniel Dye Champion Containers Chevrolet Running
28 32 26 Sage Karam CRC Brakleen Toyota Accident
29 7 51 Jeremy Clements One Stop/All South Electric Chevrolet DVP
30 24 42 Leland Honeyman Ohio Logistics Chevrolet Accident
31 35 4 Dawson Cram FIRMAN Power Equipment Chevrolet Accident
32 27 92 Josh Bilicki Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet Accident
33 37 35 Frankie Muniz Ford Performance Ford DVP
34 21 11 Josh Williams Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet DVP
35 18 14 Daniel Suarez Wendy’s Chevrolet Accident
36 15 1 Sam Mayer Carolina Carports Chevrolet Accident
37 28 15 Hailie Deegen Klutch Vodka Ford Accident
38 25 91 Kyle Weatherman Chevrolet Accident

Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series