Austin Hill making bid to show Cup teams he is worthy

Austin Hill celebrating his third win of 2023(Getty Images)

There is no doubt that whenever a NASCAR Xfinity Series race is held on one of the super speedway style tracks Austin Hill will be among the contenders for the win. The 28-year-old driver’s victory on Saturday in the Raptor King of Tough 250 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway was his third triumph out of five races so far in 2023 and his second(combined with Daytona) on the tracks that call for drafting and pack racing.

In all, Hill has amassed five wins at Daytona and Atlanta(since the reconfiguration) in the Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The Winston, Georgia native obviously has a knack for racing at the sport’s fastest venues which should be getting the attention of the organizations that field cars in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet also pulled into victory lane earlier this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Apart from the drafting tracks, Hill has also won in the Truck Series at Michigan, Homestead, Kansas and Las Vegas. And to show some diversity, he also took trophies away from the dirt track in Knoxville, Iowa and the Watkins Glen International road course.

Along with his three wins in this 2023 season, he posted finishes of 6th on the 2-mile venue in Fontana, California and a 7th at Phoenix Raceway.

Following his Atlanta victory, Hill spoke with the media about not only that race but his season to date.

“The good thing is that we’re not only good on the super speedways this year, we’re good pretty much everywhere, even at Phoenix with it being a shorter race track, we ran up front but there at the end we struggled on short runs and fell back,” he stated. “We still have some work to do to get the short run and the long run speed kind of dialed in to where they can both work together but I like where we’re at right now.”

Some drivers just have a feel for racing on the tracks that require drafting. Hill explained that feel when asked how the racing played out in Atlanta.

“I felt like the race raced way different from last year,” he pointed out. “I don’t know if it was the rear package change through the off-season. Guys could get really big runs and it was hard to defend. Normally, if I’m leading, I can keep somewhat of a bubble on my car to where they couldn’t really break the bubble and tonight it was almost obsolete. Whenever somebody wanted to get to my back bumper and give me a push it seemed like they could. I started finding some things toward the end of the race in that long green flag run that we had and it was working really well for me.”

Hill finished second last March in the first Xfinity Series event held on the reconfigured Georgia track and has since followed that up with two straight wins. What makes him so good on that particular 1.5-mile layout?

“I guess it’s because it’s a super speedway style race track and we’ve had some really good success with RCR on the Daytonas and Talladegas and such,” Hill said. “This track races similar but there were a lot of differences tonight that stuck out to me. You’re still in the draft and you’re still doing that type of thing but I feel like you can make the bottom work. The race does race a lot different but it does have those super speedway tendencies and I think that’s one reason why I’m having some success here.”

Austin Hill(21) has shown a knack for making the right moves on the big speedways (Getty Images)

While there does seem to be a sort of randomness to how the super speedway races play out, Hill insists that his team’s success should not be attributed to luck.

“I don’t think it’s circumstantial that we’re in this position again,” he declared. “Daytona worked out the way we needed it to, anyone could have won that race the way it unfolded and we were in the right place at the right time. But tonight, we had to come from the back. We had to go to the back but we still drove up to the front. I still believe that there’s that where if we lose track position we can still make it back up because we have a fast car. I don’t think it’s circumstantial at all that we’re sitting here in victory lane on a super speedway type track.”

Hill will no doubt be on someone’s watch list for a NASCAR Cup Series ride in 2024. Of course, sponsorship always plays a role in who gets what ride. But as good as he is on the bigger tracks, Hill could be the type of driver who could give a team a shot at a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs with a win. After all, teams hire racers because they are good on road courses or short tracks so why not hire a driver who is very good on the super speedways and other high speedway tracks?

And, of course, NASCAR’s most important and prestigious race is held at a facility where Austin Hill has proven to have a knack for winning.

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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.

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