Austin Hill repeats in Xfinity Series opener at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Austin Hill won Saturday night’s Xfinity Series opener at Daytona International Speedway as the race ended under caution in overtime after a spectacular last lap crash.
Officials needed about five minutes after the finish to analyze video before declaring Hill the winner.
The last lap crash sent Sam Mayer’s Chevrolet spinning and flipping onto its roof after contact with Hill. The car slid along the track upside down as sparks flew, then hit the grass adjacent to the track and flipped onto its wheels.
Mayer moved to the outside to challenge Justin Allgaier for the lead on the last lap but lost control of his car after contact with Hill’s car. The caution flew, meaning the driver in front when officials pushed the caution button would win the race. And that was Hill. He edged John Hunter Nemechek. Following were Allgaier, Parker Retzlaff and Myatt Snider.
“When I chose the outside line (before the last green flag), I didn’t feel like the inside line was that great,” Hill said. “When I saw (Mayer) and (Allgaier) get together, I said, ‘You can’t lift. It’s the last lap.’ As soon as the caution light came on, I thought I had it, but it was so close.”
Mayer was not injured.
Hill, who also won this race last year, had the lead much of Saturday’s race and led a long chain of single-file cars in a draft approaching the closing miles.
With eight laps to go, Hill held the lead in front of four JR Motorsports cars in a row -- Josh Berry, Allgaier, Mayer and Brandon Jones.
The drafting line held together until the lap counter dropped to two laps to go. Jones was bounced off the track by Berry while running third. His slide forced a caution flag, setting up the overtime finish. Berry lost his chance at victory when his Chevy ran out of fuel.
Allgaier fought back from involvement in a Lap 40 crash and won the race’s second stage. Sammy Smith slid off the track as the stage ended.
Hill won the first stage.
Contact from Parker Kligerman sent Jeffrey Earnhardt into the wall with 12 laps to go, and Earnhardt was upset by the incident after the race. Kligerman and Earnhardt had an animated discussion post-race.
Stage 1 winner: Austin Hill
Stage 2 winner: Justin Allgaier
Who had a good race: Austin Hill has become a Daytona star. He won at DIS for the second straight year. ... Rookie Parker Retzlaff ran a solid race and finished fourth.
Who had a bad race: One of the three Kaulig Racing cars parked on Lap 21 after driver Daniel Hemric was involved in a crash. ... An accident in the trioval on Lap 41 damaged the cars of Sheldon Creed, Stefan Parsons and Justin Allgaier. Parker Kligerman appeared to start the incident in a tight draft by bumping Creed. ... JR Motorsports had four cars in the rush toward the win, but none could pass Hill.
Next: Race No. 2 on the Xfinity schedule is Feb. 25 at Auto Club Speedway in California.