NASCAR Xfinity Series

Austin Hill now 2/3 in ’23 with Vegas win

2 Mins read
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Austin Hill could not have asked for a better start to the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. Two weeks after winning the opener in Daytona, he passed pole sitter Chandler Smith on the penultimate lap to win the Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Smith had dominated the race from the pole, winning the first stage and leading 118 of 200 laps. However, he found understeer start to affect his car in the closing laps which allowed Hill to close in before making his move. Hill scored his fourth career Xfinity win and first in a “non-superspeedway” environment; while his victory at Atlanta in 2022 came on a 1.5-mile course like Las Vegas, it now behaves like a plate track akin to Daytona.

He is also the first driver to win two of the first three races of an Xfinity season since Kyle Busch in 2016, though Busch was a Cup Series regular at the time (and still is). The most recent person to achieve the feat while not being known as a Cup contender was Todd Bodine in 2001, while Chad Little in 1995 was the last instance from a driver who did not race weekly in NASCAR’s highest level.

“When the #16 (Smith) got by me, I got really, really loose off of (turn) three,” said Hill. “Almost wrecked it, saved it. The #16 got really far out. I just knew I had to not abuse the tyres and try to methodically just work my way through traffic. The track was really tough today. Had a really thin line between three and four. If you missed it by, it seemed like a half of an inch, you paid for it through the whole lap.”

Despite “retiring” from the Xfinity Series in 2021 upon crossing 100 victories in the division, Busch finished fourth in his return, ruining his hopes of sweeping the weekend after claiming the Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday. Busch’s entry with Kaulig Racing was his first Xfinity start in a Chevrolet since 2007; he currently races for Hill’s team Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series.

The race featured three cautions, all for single-car spins: Parker Kligerman just three laps in, Josh Berry on lap 75, and Rajah Caruth on lap 90 to end Stage #2 under yellow. The previous Xfinity race at Las Vegas, the 2022 fall event, was also relatively clean with just one race-related caution for a spin. Joey Gase was the lone retirement after his fuel pump cable broke in two.

Race results

1921Austin HillRichard Childress RacingChevrolet200Running
227Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
3116Chandler SmithKaulig RacingChevrolet200Running
41110Kyle Busch*Kaulig RacingChevrolet200Running
558Josh BerryJR MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
6720John Hunter NemechekJoe Gibbs RacingToyota200Running
7131Sam MayerJR MotorsportsChevrolet200Running
81098Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord200Running
9122Sheldon CreedRichard Childress RacingChevrolet200Running
10811Daniel HemricKaulig RacingChevrolet200Running
11648Parker KligermanBig Machine Racing TeamChevrolet200Running
12300Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord200Running
131524Tyler Reddick*Sam Hunt RacingToyota199Running
142427Jeb BurtonJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet199Running
151719Joe Graf Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota199Running
162602Kyle WeathermanOur MotorsportsChevrolet199Running
171418Sammy SmithJoe Gibbs RacingToyota199Running
183228Alex LabbéRSS RacingFord199Running
192378Anthony AlfredoB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet198Running
202238Kyle SiegRSS RacingFord198Running
21199Brandon JonesJR MotorsportsChevrolet198Running
22425Brett MoffittAM RacingFord198Running
232126Kaz GralaSam Hunt RacingToyota198Running
241839Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord197Running
252551Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet197Running
261645Rajah Caruth*Alpha Prime RacingChevrolet197Running
273643Ryan EllisAlpha Prime RacingChevrolet197Running
28294Bayley CurreyJD MotorsportsChevrolet197Running
293544Jeffrey EarnhardtAlpha Prime RacingChevrolet197Running
302792Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet197Running
313191Josh BilickiDGM RacingChevrolet196Running
323408Gray GauldingSS-Green Light RacingFord196Running
33336Brennan PooleJD MotorsportsChevrolet196Running
343853Patrick EmerlingEmerling-Gase MotorsportsChevrolet194Running
353007Blaine PerkinsSS-Green Light RacingChevrolet192Running
362899Garrett SmithleyB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet187Running
372031Parker RetzlaffJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet186Running
383735Joey GaseEmerling-Gase MotorsportsToyota156Fuel Pump
DNQ66Mason Maggio*MBM MotorsportsFord
DNQ74Ryan VargasCHK RacingChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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