Austin Hill. (HHP/Tom Copeland)

Three-Peat At Daytona For Austin Hill

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In what turned into a three-lap duel to the checkered flag, it was Austin Hill who reigned victorious to win the United Rentals 300 at Daytona Int’l Speedway for a third straight season.

The final restart with four laps to go saw Jordan Anderson lead the field. However, a massive run brought Hill’s No. 21 Chevrolet back to Anderson as Hill darted past to snag the lead.

A multi-car pileup ensued behind Hill and former Richard Childress Racing teammate Sheldon Creed on the final lap. Hill stretched his gap to Creed back to the checkered flag. 

Behind the front two, Jordan Anderson Racing notched two top-five finishes with Anderson finishing third and Parker Retzlaff in fourth. 

Chandler Smith, in his debut with Joe Gibbs Racing, finished fifth aboard the No. 81 Toyota. 

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst overcame a restart violation late in the race to wheel his No. 98 Ford to a sixth-place result.

The race featured nine caution flags and 19 lead changes at the 2.5-mile oval. 

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Austin Hill en route to victory at Daytona Int’l Speedway. (Dave Moulthrop photo)

Post-Race Notes

• On lap 23, the first caution of the evening was thrown after a stack up on the high line sent NASCAR Cup Series regular Daniel Suarez into the back of Sam Mayer. Hailie Deegan was also involved in the accident. 

 “I saw two guys in front of me start wrecking. I started checking up. I was playing it cautious at the beginning of the race and tried to hang back but I got hit on the entry to the corner,” Deegan said. “As soon as I was checking up I thought the guys behind me would check up because they were further back but then I got hit on entry of turn one and as soon as that happened it started my momentum back up.

“I tried to get it slowed down but couldn’t in time. It is what it is.”

• Polesitter and rookie Jesse Love won Stage One by inches over teammate Austin Hill, his first stage victory in the Xfinity Series.

• Shortly after, another caution flew when John Hunter Nemechek bumped Love and got the No. 2 Chevrolet loose. Love made contact with Allmendinger, who spun down the track starting a 10-car accident involving Love, Sammy Smith, Daniel Dye, Josh Williams, Nemechek, Hill, Frankie Muniz, Parker Kligerman and Shane Van Gisbergen.

It was Muniz’s first start in the Xfinity Series after a full run in the ARCA Menards Series last season.

“After that last cycle of pit stops, after the stage break, we decided to go back to the back,” Muniz began. “We wanted to just keep riding around a little bit to get some experience.  Our whole thing was just be there at the end, so we were trying to be as safe as possible.  There was a bunch of pretty fast cars behind us, so I was just staying on the inside letting them go by and before I knew it I just saw a bunch of smoke and tons of cars going all over the place.  I thought I picked the right side to go through, but I just happened to go in the grass and the grass is still so wet from all the rain, so I just lost the rear and ran into someone. 

“It’s bad luck, really, because that’s what getting through something like that is – you get lucky if you make it.  Unfortunate because we were literally trying to be cautious.  Even the whole first run we were chilling where we were and just kind of getting comfortable.”

With nine laps to go, Sage Karam bumped Cole Custer hard on the backstretch while running inside the top 10, spinning Custer and triggering a five-car pileup. The drivers involved also included Justin Allgaier, Dye and Brennan Poole.