Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Austin Hill Wins at Atlanta for Third NASCAR Xfinity Victory of 2023

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

HAMPTON, Ga. – In a race that started in chaos and ended in bedlam on the last lap, Austin Hill won his third NASCAR Xfinity Series race of the season, beating Daniel Hemric to the checkered flag in Saturday’s RAPTOR King of the Tough 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

With his family in attendance, the Winston, Ga., native, led three times for a race-high 103 laps and dominated an event that featured a record 12 cautions for 68 laps. 

NASCAR called the final yellow on the last lap, after a multicar wreck erupted as Hill and Hemric approached the finish line.  

Parker Kligerman made a race of it until the cars entered the frontstretch dogleg on the last lap. At the end of a two-lap dash to the finish, Kligerman’s Chevrolet turned sideways across the front bumper of Hemric’s car and hit the right rear of Hill’s No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevy. 

Hill maintained control and took the checkered flag with Hemric trailing by .085 seconds. Kligerman slid backwards across the finish line in fourth, as Ryan Truex edged him for the third spot by .001 seconds. 

“They knew we were here,” Kligerman radioed to his Big Machine Racing team. 

The defending race winner, Hill came to Atlanta with victories at Daytona and Las Vegas and, understandably, the Xfinity Series lead. The win was Hill’s second at Atlanta and the fifth of his career. 

The only thing that shook Hill all night was the contact with the right rear of his car in the final 100 yards. 

“I have no idea how I saved it coming to the line,” Hill said, after his young daughter ran out to greet him at the finish line. “What a start to the season. Everybody at Richard Childress Racing, ECR engines—we’ve just had such a fast start with Chevrolet. This has been special, for sure.” 

Riley Herbst finished fifth, followed by Brett Moffitt, Josh Berry, John Hunter Nemechek, Sam Mayer and Justin Haley. 

Hill won the first stage, and Kligerman gave Big Machine its first-ever stage victory in the second. 

In the first two stages combined, the race featured more caution laps than green-flag laps—49 to 31, to be exact—the result of nine yellow flags. 

Josh Williams’ No. 92 Chevrolet sustained damage in a Lap 27 accident with the No. 02 Chevy of Kyle Weatherman, and when Williams dropped debris on the frontstretch to cause the fourth caution moments after the subsequent Lap 32 restart, NASCAR parked him under the Damaged Vehicle Policy. 

Instead of driving his car to the garage, however, a frustrated Williams parked it at the start/finish line. NASCAR ordered Williams to the hauler for a discussion of the incident, after he was released from the infield care center.  

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – RAPTOR King of Tough 250

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Saturday, March 18, 2023

                  1. (3)  Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 163.

                  2. (11)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 163.

                  3. (4)  Ryan Truex, Toyota, 163.

                  4. (13)  Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 163.

                  5. (5)  Riley Herbst, Ford, 163.

                  6. (12)  Brett Moffitt, Ford, 163.

                  7. (9)  Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 163.

                  8. (2)  John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 163.

                  9. (10)  Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 163.

                  10. (18)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 163.

                  11. (14)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 163.

                  12. (8)  Cole Custer, Ford, 163.

                  13. (29)  Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 163.

                  14. (15)  Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 163.

                  15. (23)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 163.

                  16. (16)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 163.

                  17. (1)  Sammy Smith #, Toyota, 163.

                  18. (32)  Patrick Emerling, Ford, 163.

                  19. (21)  Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 163.

                  20. (35)  Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 163.

                  21. (7)  Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 163.

                  22. (36)  Blaine Perkins #, Chevrolet, 163.

                  23. (24)  Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 163.

                  24. (37)  Chad Chastain, Chevrolet, 163.

                  25. (27)  Joe Graf Jr., Ford, 163.

                  26. (26)  Kyle Sieg, Ford, 161.

                  27. (17)  Parker Retzlaff #, Chevrolet, Accident, 154.

                  28. (6)  Chandler Smith #, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 127.

                  29. (19)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 77.

                  30. (25)  Connor Mosack, Toyota, Accident, 69.

                  31. (30)  Sage Karam, Chevrolet, Radiator, 43.

                  32. (22)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Accident, 33.

                  33. (20)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Accident, 26.

                  34. (31)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 11.

                  35. (28)  Kaz Grala, Toyota, Accident, 11.

                  36. (34)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, Accident, 11.

                  37. (33)  Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Accident, 1.

                  38. (38)  Caesar Bacarella, Chevrolet, Accident, 1.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  91.382 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 44 Mins, 49 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.085 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  12 for 68 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   S. Smith # 0;J. Nemechek 1-10;A. Hill 11-43;J. Haley(i) 44-46;A. Alfredo 47;J. Haley(i) 48-49;A. Alfredo 50-66;B. Jones 67-76;P. Kligerman 77-81;G. Gaulding 82;R. Herbst 83-92;A. Hill 93-98;R. Herbst 99;A. Hill 100-163.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Austin Hill 3 times for 103 laps; Anthony Alfredo 2 times for 18 laps; Riley Herbst 2 times for 11 laps; John Hunter Nemechek 1 time for 10 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 10 laps; Parker Kligerman 1 time for 5 laps; Justin Haley(i) 2 times for 5 laps; Gray Gaulding 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 21,2,20,16,98,25,11,39,00,10

Stage #2 Top Ten: 48,98,9,2,78,39,8,21,00,51

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