Austin Hill wins a dramatic Xfinity Series race at Atlanta as most run out of fuel

Austin Hill wins a dramatic Xfinity Series race at Atlanta as most run out of fuel

Austin Hill took advantage of several rivals running out of fuel and as a result, he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Austin Hill finished first in Saturday’s RAPTOR King of Tough 250 Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, despite Richard Childress Racing teammate and Sunoco rookie Jesse Love leading nearly every lap.

Numerous factors could have caused the Raptor Tough 250 to go in another direction, but for the second week in a row, Austin Hill and the Richard Childress Racing No. 21 overcame a race that presented many challenges.

Despite running in the top five the whole race, Hill felt that his car lacked the same level of grip and ride quality as other competitors, which could be attributed to the three-year-old surface losing its form.

“I was really thinking we were down and out,” Hill said. “I was thinking the No. 2 (Love) was going to go get ‘em, and hey, if I can’t win, let my teammate win. We were riding there in fourth or fifth—whatever it was—I was saving fuel…”

The last stint began with a single queue with no one being able to establish a second line owing to how cumbersome the Xfinity Series regulations package is. Hill had little chance of winning the race because he was too far back to even lead the decisive second line.

It would therefore depend on their discipline to save fuel if they were to win the race.

Riley Herbst of Stewart Haas Racing and his fellow top-10 finisher Cole Custer ran out of gasoline with three laps remaining. Herbst was running in second place before his exit. To set off the caution, Ryan Sieg ran out of petrol as well as several others, like Hailie Deegan, extended it after suffering the same.

Six additional laps were added under caution before the overtime effort because cars kept running out of fuel and requiring a tow back to pit road. Sam Mayer, Ryan Truex, Parker Kligerman, Hill, and Jesse Love were the leaders who did not retire with Love having led all but ten laps of the race.

“It’s almost comical,” Love said. “Man, I’m just so…proud of everybody on this Whelen car. It just wasn’t meant to be.

“Obviously, as a Christian, I’m not going to allow myself to question why we were under caution so long or what happened.

“I always try to take responsibility for everything, so I as a driver I should have saved more fuel. Man, I just didn’t want anybody to catch me off-guard. I thought I saved a ton. Man, that overtime or that caution just lasted forever.

“No matter what, I’m really proud of our guys. We had a great showing. Led a lot of laps man. It just wasn’t in store for us today.”

Kligerman felt that he pushed Herbst to run out of fuel by forcing Hill to run out of fuel in Turn 3, where he ran out just before the green flag. Hill shuddered as he took the green as well.

The number of laps since each driver consumed fuel is what makes the top five drivers the most insane. Since Hill pitted, 86 laps had passed, and during the last caution, Chandler Smith, Shane Van Gisbergen, Sheldon Creed, and Parker Retzlaff all lead the way to finish.

New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, who finished third in his second Xfinity Series outing, was among those who made use of the fuel stop.

“Pretty awesome,” Van Gisbergen was delighted to be on the other side of the fuel equation. “Great job by (crew chief) Bruce (Schlicker) on the box there to pit us. I had so much fun. Just learning about it and running in the pack.

“Yeah, to be P3 in the second race in the WeatherTech Chevy is pretty awesome. I’m stoked.

“It’s just good to get a result and have a clean car, especially after last week (at Daytona) when I got involved in so much stuff. So, to have a clean race, not make too many mistakes, and complete every lap, we learned a lot. It was awesome.”

The gas shortage throughout the field scrambled the finishing order, leaving Sheldon Creed fourth and Parker Retzlaff fifth. Jeremy Clements, Anthony Alfredo, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Ryan Truex and Sammy Smith completed the top 10.

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