Austin Hill gets second steak dinner after Beef 300 final lap wreck

Austin Hill probably had a feeling of déjà vu when he stood in Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway to begin the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. Not only was it his second straight win in the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300, but it came following a dramatic flip on the final lap.

Unlike in 2022, Hill was directly involved in the crash this time when Sam Mayer spun off Hill’s front bumper on the backstretch while fighting for the lead and flipped onto his roof. As Mayer slid across the pavement, Hill ran three-abreast with John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier as the caution came out, with Hill being named the winner as the leader at the moment of the yellow flag following a lengthy review. Complicating matters was Nemechek going below the double-yellow line, which is forbidden at superspeedways unless to avoid a wreck.

“When I turned across my nose, I just figured caution is out, race is over,” said Hill. “But as soon as he turned across my nose, it allowed whoever was behind me—the #31 (Parker Retzlaff), #38 (Ryan Sieg), whoever the car was, I don’t know who it was—it allowed them to get to my bumper, and they just never lifted and they gave me a really big shot and they started pushing me down the back.

“I’m sitting there looking at the green light and looking at the #7 (Allgaier) beside me to see when the yellow light is going to come up, and as soon as I saw the yellow light I looked left, and it looked like I was ahead of the #7, but then I didn’t realise the #20 (Nemechek) is below the double yellow line. I’m like, ‘If they let that go, that’s going to be close between us.’ I was actually just thinking I’m racing the #7. I thought the #20 would get a penalty for going below the yellow, but I’m guessing the reason they let that slide was probably because the wreck happened and it made it to where he was probably trying to miss the wreck type thing.”

Hill won the pole and the first stage, while Allgaier claimed the second. The former has established himself as one of the top superspeedway racers in NASCAR’s national tiers, having also won at the superspeedway-like Atlanta in 2022 while his first Truck Series victory was at Daytona three years prior.

While certainly a great way to begin the Xfinity season, it also comes with some bittersweetness as he had failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 two days prior. Hill admitted as that “as confident as I am on these superspeedways, it does burn that I’m not going to be in the 500 because I truly believe that I could compete with all the Cup guys. I really think that I could go up there, race for a win, and I’m not saying that out of being cockiness or nothing, I just have that confidence in myself. I feel like I see things on the race track that a lot of other people don’t.

“I think when you get in the Cup level, the guys that see the same things I do, that stacks up a lot deeper than what you have in the Xfinity and Truck side. It would be a lot harder, don’t get me wrong, it would be way harder to get a win in the 500, and there’s a lot of people that are really good at what they do that have never achieved it, Hall of Famers that have never achieved it. I can’t sit here and say that I’d just go out there and win the 500, but I think I could compete. So I think that’s one thing that stings a little bit.”

Retzlaff finished a career-best fourth in his first race for Jordan Anderson Racing while Myatt Snider, the previous driver for JAR and the victim of the last-lap wreck in the 2022 race, was a spot behind him. Joe Graf Jr. also notched his best run in seventh for his maiden top ten outside Talladega.

“I don’t want anyone to flip at this race track,” Snider commented, now a part-time driver for Joe Gibbs Racing who worked with Nemechek coming to the finish. “I can confirm it is not very fun, but what is fun is racing this Tree Top GR Supra here at Daytona. […] I thought we had it there with John Hunter. I thought I pushed him to the win. I hate it that the #7 pushed him down below the double-yellow line. It was really, really close, but that’s what you deal with here. It’s spots and inches here. It is Daytona.”

True to Daytona, multiple front-runners were taken out in wrecks throughout the day including Hill’s Richard Childress Racing team-mate Sheldon Creed, who qualified fourth but was turned by Parker Kligerman and triggered a wreck that collected Jeffrey Earnhardt and Daniel Hemric. Earnhardt confronted Kligerman after the race, the latter of whom later conceded he had spun Creed “like a dufus” upon seeing the replay.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 1 21 Austin Hill Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
2 7 20 John Hunter Nemechek Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 125 Running
3 5 7 Justin Allgaier JR Motorsports Chevrolet 125 Running
4 16 31 Parker Retzlaff Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
5 13 19 Myatt Snider Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 125 Running
6 9 98 Riley Herbst Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 125 Running
7 29 39 Joe Graf Jr. RSS Racing Ford 125 Running
8 22 38 Ryan Sieg RSS Racing Ford 125 Running
9 3 00 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 125 Running
10 19 10 Justin Haley* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
11 20 27 Jeb Burton Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
12 8 16 Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
13 17 45 Stefan Parsons Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
14 11 9 Brandon Jones JR Motorsports Chevrolet 125 Running
15 25 92 Josh Williams DGM Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
16 34 24 Parker Chase Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 125 Running
17 38 51 Jeremy Clements Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
18 36 53 Joey Gase Emerling-Gase Motorsports Ford 125 Running
19 15 18 Sammy Smith Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 125 Running
20 23 08 Gray Gaulding SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 125 Running
21 26 28 Kyle Sieg RSS Racing Ford 125 Running
22 28 02 David Starr Our Motorsports Chevrolet 125 Running
23 2 48 Parker Kligerman Big Machine Racing Team Chevrolet 125 Running
24 10 78 Anthony Alfredo B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet 125 Running
25 12 5 Jade Buford Big Machine Racing Team Chevrolet 125 Running
26 18 8 Josh Berry JR Motorsports Chevrolet 125 Running
27 14 1 Sam Mayer JR Motorsports Chevrolet 124 Accident
28 24 44 Jeffrey Earnhardt Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 124 Running
29 32 25 Brett Moffitt AM Racing Ford 124 Running
30 37 34 Jesse Iwuji Jesse Iwuji Motorsports Chevrolet 110 Electrical
31 31 35 C.J. McLaughlin Emerling-Gase Motorsports Ford 87 Accident
32 33 26 Kaz Grala Sam Hunt Racing Toyota 82 Engine
33 21 6 Brennan Poole JD Motorsports Chevrolet 81 Engine
34 4 2 Sheldon Creed Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 41 Accident
35 35 43 Ryan Ellis Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet 41 Accident
36 6 11 Daniel Hemric Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 20 Accident
37 27 07 Blaine Perkins SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet 19 Accident
38 30 4 Bayley Currey JD Motorsports Chevrolet 8 Engine
DNQ 66 Dexter Stacey MBM Motorsports Chevrolet
DNQ 91 Josh Bilicki* DGM Racing Chevrolet
DNQ 99 Garrett Smithley B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet
DNQ 13 Timmy Hill* MBM Motorsports Toyota
DNQ 36 Alex Labbé DGM Racing Chevrolet
DNQ 74 Ryan Vargas CHK Racing Chevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points