DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Hill was triumphant at Daytona Saturday night, marking the second year in a row he's won the Beef! It's What's for Dinner 300. Hill won in dramatic fashion, with one car flipping over on the final and the results coming down to a tense judgment call.
Hill qualified his #21 Chevrolet on the pole, but had to forfeit the position to come down pit road for repairs. The radio on Hill's car had died, the driver said, and without replacing it he'd be without critical guidance from his spotter.
Though the #21 team almost told him to keep his position with the radio as-is, the service wouldn't prove to be too costly. Hill was back within the top ten within the first stage, quickly dicing his way through the back of the Xfinity Series field.
Multiple on-track incidents took out contenders like Daniel Hemric and Sheldon Creed. Daytona is always a survival race, with some of the fastest cars on-track frequently find themselves totaled early in the running. One team, however, found itself lucky enough to be entirely intact by the closing laps: JR Motorsports.
Owned by icon Dale Earnhardt Jr., JR Motorsports employs drivers Brandon Jones, Josh Berry, Sam Mayer, and Justin Allgaier. The four JRM Chevrolets found another in the draft as the laps ticked down, forming what they'd hoped would be an unstoppable armada. This would not be the case.
Jones found himself turned around after accidental contact, and the ensuing caution led to Berry's car running out of fuel. Mayer and Allgaier were not positioned to push one another to the win, and on the final lap of the race Mayer was hooked to the right, and almost instantly flipped upside down.
As the race was on the white flag lap, the caution flag being thrown for Mayer's flip ended the race immediately. The cars of Hill and John Hunter Nemechek were in a dead heat at the time of the caution, resulting in a period of several minutes for NASCAR officials to review tape and declare a winner.
The cars of Hill, Nemechek, and Allgaier rested idly at the entrance to pit road, all three drivers hoping to be told they’d won. After what felt like an eternity, Hill got the news he’d been hoping for: Victory Lane. Two in a row. Daytona triumph.
The win was a welcome reprieve from a bummer weekend: Hill had attempted to qualify for the 65th Daytona 500 on Sunday but missed the field due to issues in Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacations Duels. Hill’s spot went to IndyCar veteran Conor Daly, an upset outcome. Hill confirmed in his press conference after the race, he’d gone from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs.