Austin Hill wins as airborne crash ends NASCAR Xfinity race

Rookie Austin Hill escaped a massive last-lap crash to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

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Hill was running second behind A.J. Allmendinger as the field powered down the backstretch on the final of 120 laps.

Just as Hill edged ahead of Allmendinger with a push from Riley Herbst, chaos erupted as Anthony Alfredo got loose and knocked Myatt Snider’s Chevrolet to the oncoming Jade Buford, sending Snider's car flipping in the air. Both the car's engine and rear end were ripped out of the car after contact with the catchfence.

NASCAR immediately put out a caution which froze the field and Hill – in his first fulltime season in the Xfinity Series with Richard Childress Racing – was declared the winner.

All those involved in the last lap wreck were evaluated and released from the infield care center.

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The win locks Hill into the 2022 playoffs and it’s the second time he’s kicked off a season with a win at Daytona. He won the 2019 Truck Series opener at Daytona with Hattori Enterprises.

“Man, me and Derek Kneeland, my spotter, worked really well. I was kept telling him all night, ‘I’m just putting that in the memory bank’ to remember late in the race,” Hill said. “We timed perfectly.

“Obviously, that caution came out but we had a heck of a run so who knows what would have happened? I was able to drag back and (Herbst) gave me a heck of a push and I was able to get by (Allmendinger).

“This is so crazy. I won (Daytona) back in 2019 with a new team and now we’re with RCR and it’s the first race with them and we were able to get the job done. I’m speechless. Thanks to all these guys back at RCR for believing in me.”

Allmendinger ended up second, Noah Gragson third, Herbst fourth and Justin Allgaier rouned out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 were Creed, Anthony Alfredo, Ryan Sieg, Josh Bilicki and Brandon Brown.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all pit with Hemric the first off pit road. The race returned to green on Lap 67 with Hemric followed by Allmendinger and Ty Gibbs.

On Lap 75, the first group of lead-lap cars – all three Kaulig Racing teams – hit pit road for their final green-flag stops.

Another larger group came on Lap 76 and Sam Mayer wrecked after contact from Creed as he entered pit road for his stop but the race remained under the green flag.

On Lap 77, Jesse Iwuji was penalized for speeding on pit road during his stop and had to serve a pass-through penalty.

On Lap 85, NASCAR threw a caution for a bumper cover which came off the car of Mayer and ended up in Turn 4.

Those teams who had not yet made their final stop pit under the caution. On the restart on Lap 91, Hill cycled to the lead followed by Gragson, Allmendinger and Landon Cassill.

Hemric pit during the caution but was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the rear of the field.

As the field came off Turn 4 and entered the frontstretch, C.J. McLaughlin got loose, drifted down the track then shot back up into the middle of the field triggering an 10-car wreck collected Hemric.

The race returned to green on Lap 98 with Hill out front followed by Gragson, Allmendinger and Cassill. Allmendinger quickly powered into the lead on the restart.

Hill, using the high line, moved back into the lead on Lap 103 as Gragson ran second and Herbst third. Allmendinger reclaimed the top spot on Lap 106 as Allgaier moved into second.

Gragson powered into the lead with help from Creed on Lap 118 but Allmendinger had the lead with one lap to go.

Stage 2

Hemric nudged Gragson out of the lead on the final lap to claim the Stage 2 victory.

Gragson was leading heading into Turn 3, when Hemric hit him from behind. Gragson slid up the track and ended up sliding back to 15th.

Sieg finished second, Mayer third, Allmendinger fourth and Allgaier rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars pit with Brown the first off pit road thanks to a fuel-only stop.

On the restart on Lap 37, Joe Graf Jr., who stayed out, led the way followed by Brown and Herbst. Brown moved into the lead shortly after the restart.

With 15 laps remaining in the stage, Brown continued to lead the way with Gragson close behind in second and Hill in third.

On Lap 49, Gragson got around Brown to take the lead for the first time in the race Sieg ran second and Hemric third.

Stage 1

Hemric held off a challenge from Allmendinger to come away with the Stage 1 victory.

Herbst finished third, Hill was fourth and Gragson rounded out the top-five.

Hemric started on the pole and led the first two laps until Hill moved around him and into the lead on Lap 3.

Alfredo was forced to pit under green for a missing right-side window net. He returned to the track two laps down after getting a replacement.

Hemric got back around Hill to retake the lead on Lap 11.

Caution was displayed when Drew Dollar got loose on the backstretch on Lap 14 and slammed into the wall in an accident that also collected Jeremy Clements and Mayer.

The race returned to green on Lap 20 with Hemric out front followed by Cassill and Herbst.


Daytona NASCAR Xfinity Series race results

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