Austin Hill Wins At Daytona As Sam Mayer Slides Upside Down Showered In Sparksby Hunter Thomas February 18, 2023 1 comment
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Austin Hill just barely eked out the win in the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 as Sam Mayer, showered in sparks, slid down the backstretch on his roof at Daytona International Speedway.
In NASCAR Overtime, Justin Allgaier and Hill brought the field down to the final green flag of the night. As they traveled down the backstretch into Turns 3 and 4, Allgaier had his JR Motorsports teammate, Sam Mayer drafting with him, and Hill had Anthony Alfredo, who slipped up and opened the door for Parker Retzlaff to be the second car on the high line.
“I actually thought that I was in a really good spot,” said Hill, driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 21 Bennett Transportation Chevrolet. “I actually thought that I was controlling the line the way that I needed to. I was making sure that I didn’t get too far out. If you get over that one car length out, they can really make a run on you and get by you.
“I was trying to just kind of manage that. My spotter Derek Kneeland did an awesome job just letting me know if they were half back, three quarter back, and then when they would get to that one back, I’d actually have to back up to them so they wouldn’t back up too much and get a run on me.”
On the final lap, Allgaier had a huge lead heading into Turn 1, and with no help, the field quickly caught up and attempted to overtake. Mayer went to the high side for the lead in Turn 2. Allgaier quickly went down the track to block the low line, but it was Hill who saw a potential opening between the two. All three drivers made moves, and it was Mayer spinning off the nose of Hill. Mayer flipped upside down and slid down the backstretch while on fire. The caution was thrown, and NASCAR determined that Hill was just barely ahead of John Hunter Nemechek and Allgaier.
“When I chose the outside line, I just — I didn’t feel like the inside line was that great all day for most of the day. I just wanted to choose the top,” Hill said. “I knew the 78 (Alfredo) would stay with me. He was pretty committed. When I saw the 1 and the 7 get together, I just went to go squeeze them, and the 1 came down, he started getting loose, and then you can’t lift. It’s last lap. I hope Sam is okay, man. That was a heck of a flip there.”
Hill entered the night as the defending winner of the race. The win marked only the third of his career; however, 2023 is only Hill’s second full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The victory is also his third win at Daytona in the NASCAR national series.
“Yeah, as soon as the caution lights came on, I thought I had it, but it was so close,” Hill said. “To get back-to-back here at Daytona, it’s really special. That’s three wins for me now, two in the Xfinity, one in the truck here, and I can’t thank everyone at RCR, our Bennett Chevrolet was so good, and it was as fast as Xfinity 10G tonight for sure. We came from the back two different times.”
John Hunter Nemechek came home in third in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Mobil 1 Toyota. He ran up front all race long, finishing ninth in Stage 1 and eighth in Stage 2. Nemechek was part of the “photo finish” review on the final of the backstretch. When the chaos ignited, Nemechek dove to the bottom of the track below Allgaier; however, he came up just short on the victory.
“Intense and fast just like Xfinity 10G,” Nemechek said about the final laps. “I can’t say enough about this team. I was hoping after we signed the deal to come to Daytona and get the season kicked off and to come out of here with a race car that’s in one piece with these awesome Mobil 1 colors. Definitely makes us proud. It was really close there when they threw the caution, I thought we were ahead. Just can’t thank Myatt Snider enough for working with me all day. We didn’t have the numbers with the Toyotas, it was definitely a Chevy type of day. But we worked well together, and we were able to come home in second and fifth.”
Once again, a Daytona victory just barely slipped away for Allgaier who finished third in the JR Motorsports No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet. Allgiaer was strong all day as he won Stage 2, which was quite impressive because during the stage, he was caught up in a Lap 42 accident. He also led a total of 36 laps. Allgaier was in the catbird seat in NASCAR Overtime, but when he got too far ahead of the pack, he just couldn’t hold everyone back.
“Just disappointing,” Allgaier said. “I thought I could get enough of a draft off of that 8 car (Josh Berry) and maybe they couldn’t catch me, but I just got too far out there, and that was really all it came down to.”
Parker Retzlaff finished an impressive fourth for Jordan Anderson Racing in only his 10th career start. Myatt Snider completed the top-five. Rounding out the top-10 was Riley Herbst, Joe Graf Jr., Ryan Sieg, Cole Custer and Justin Haley.
There were 24 lead changes throughout the race. Hill lead a race high of 39 laps.
The caution flew on eight occasions for 32 laps.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will now head to Auto Club Speedway for the final time in it’s 2-mile configuration. The Production Alliance Group 300 will broadcast live on FS1 at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, February 25.
Photo Credit: Mitchell White Photography
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