By Justin Schuoler, Staff Writer
HAMPTON, Ga. – Austin Hill started at the rear of the field for the Alsco 250 after a transmission change during qualifying.
By Lap 25, Richard Childress Racing driver climbed into the top-10.
In the final laps of Stage 1, Hill was battling for the stage win.
It didn’t surprise the field one bit as not a single driver was surprised at Hill’s strength on the superspeedway-style races.
But as the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, wreck ‘em.”
Approaching the conclusion of the race, Hill made a daring move to give him a chance at the win. In order to do so, he would have to claw away at the three Kaulig Racing cars of Justin Haley, Chandler Smith and Daniel Hemric. Plus, hard chargers such as John Hunter Nemechek and Parker Kligerman also wanted a piece of the pie for a chance at taking home the trophy.
Taking the difficulty level up a notch was back on Lap 88 when Hill’s teammate Sheldon Creed was tangled into an 11-car pileup, forcing his RCR teammate to retire from the race.
For Hill, he felt it was every man against himself.
“I’ve noticed that really all of this year,” Hill stated. “Anytime we go on a superspeedway, no one wants to work with me. The only one that does is my teammate Sheldon. Other than that, you have no Chevy alliances, you have nobody. You’re just out there on an island by yourself trying to do all you can. And it makes it tough, doesn’t make it easy. You gotta work extra hard. Everybody at RCR, ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing) brings me a really fast Bennett Chevrolet to the race track.”
And fast it was. Hill tried to make a move to get by one car at a time. In fact, he singlehandedly broke up the three Kaulig cars, forcing Hemric out of line and started to make his charge to the lead. However, he was turned by Kligerman via air pressure within the draft, essentially ending his chances at the win.
“Man, I just wish we could have got the lead tonight,” continued Hill. “I think you would have seen us in Victory Lane, or at least had a shot at it because I think leading is where our car has its strong suit.”
Hill knows it’s a what-if story for his No. 21 Bennett Construction team. He never got the chance to see how strong his car truly was as he led only one lap during the whole race.
“I think if we ever could have controlled the race, we could have done exactly what the 20 (Nemechek) did and kept the three Kaulig cars behind us,” he explained. “But we just never could get to the lead and control the race to see how our car was in clean air.”
The frustration was visible and on multiple levels, and feels the alliance with other Chevrolet teams isn’t as strong as he’d like it to be.
“We have the alliance (with Kaulig Racing), we call it,” said Hill. “We have the alliance with the 48, but for whatever reason, they – I don’t know if they’re bitter that I outrun them on the superspeedways or what it is – they do all they can to screw me, and they sure did tonight.”
Hindsight, Hill believes there’s nothing else he could do and that he left nothing on the table for his team.
“It’s whatever, it is what it is.”