Motorsport News

Austin Hill Survives Chaos in Atlanta

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Atlanta Motor Speedway was reconfigured prior to last season. The intention was to create pack racing with drafting, high speeds, huge runs and exciting racing. What unfolded on Saturday afternoon (March 18) was not what the masterminds of the reconfiguration envisioned. The average speed of the race clocked in at just over 91 miles per hour, by far the lowest of any NASCAR Xfinity Series race held at Atlanta.

The Raptor 250 featured an exciting finish that will be marred by the Xfinity track-record 12 caution flags and a bizarre incident courtesy of Josh Williams.

The first half of the race was littered with short runs and wrecks, and there were nine cautions in the first two stages. Austin Hill was dominant in the early and late stages of the race, as he led the final 64 laps and a total of 103 in the 163-lap event.

The victory was the third of the season for Hill after just five races of the 2023 season. Daniel Hemric came home second while Ryan Truex, Parker Kligerman, and Riley Herbst rounded out the top five.

The Winners

By winning his third race of the young 2023 Xfinity Series season, Hill has built up a nice stash of playoff points and an early regular season points lead. This early season surge will allow he and his team to test the limits and experiment with strategy and setups to build their notebook for the playoff run.

Previously thought of as a drafting specialist, Hill’s win two weeks ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway showed any remaining doubters he’s more than a one-trick pony.

Flash forward to Atlanta and he was able to control both lanes with little challenge over the course of the closing laps. Coming to the finish, he was getting right reared after contact between Kligerman and Hemric and somehow hung onto it; Hill kept his car in front of the pack as the field wrecked behind him coming to the checkered flag.

Still, it’s hard to say that Hill is the championship favorite with so much season left to play out. Some regression is to be expected, as it would be difficult for any team and driver to keep winning at this pace.

Behind the dominant Hill, Kligerman appeared to be the worthiest challenger at Atlanta. While most of the pack ran single file in the top lane, Kligerman made his way to the front with new tires by passing cars in the bottom lane with little to no drafting help. He also scored his first stage win of the season in stage two.

He made a power move outside of Hill going into…

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