HAMPTON, Ga. – Working together as Saturday night’s Alsco Uniforms 250 reached its conclusion at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ summer visit to Georgia was shaping up to be a banner evening for Kaulig Racing. Justin Haley not only led the most laps but with 10 circuits to go, there was a strong chance at the very least of a one-two finish with Chandler Smith in second with Daniel Hemric in line to finish third. That would have handed Kaulig Racing a sweep of the top three.
But on a night where it appeared that the Kaulig trio would get the best of Austin Hill, a winner of multiple restrictor-plate events, those hopes ironically came undone indirectly because of Hill, who, with three laps to go, spun after contact with Parker Kligerman. That would lead to two of the three Kaulig cars having fuel issues, souring visions of victory in the end, with John Hunter Nemechek taking the checkered flag.
“Definitely a frustrating end for Kaulig Racing,” said Haley, who finished fourth, two spots behind Hemric.
Hill had a proverbial rocketship from the drop of the green flag. Despite starting last, he ended the first stage in the top five. By the end of stage two, he was nestled in second.
“[Hill] seemed like he could make runs that the rest of us couldn’t,” Hemric said.
Hill did that with little help from other drivers.
“Just [had] no friends out there, everyone was my enemy, and I was able to drive up to second without any help at all, which is pretty incredible,” Hill said. “It seemed like every guy had to have at least two or three working with them to make things happen all day. We literally had no one all day and were able to still get up front.”
There would be no run for a win for Hill after the wreck with three laps to go. Although he would continue on to finish 12th, chances of a victory were gone.
That forced the race into NASCAR Overtime, where both Smith and Haley were bitten by fuel pickup that was not quite enough to run clean to the finish. With the field taking the green flag in overtime, Haley, restarting on the front row, lost help from Smith, unable to push him as he ran out of fuel. And with Nemechek getting a shove from behind via the car of Hemric, the No. 20 swiped the win away.
“My car was sputtering there at the end. [Smith] ran out of fuel there off of [turn 4], and mine started sputtering, so I got low to try not to cause a pileup,” Haley said. “Obviously, I kind of regained it.”
How dominant was Haley? Consider the fact that he led a race-high 80 laps on Saturday.
“Leading all those laps, I was leading and [Smith] was in second,” Haley said. “Obviously, we were on the throttle more than anybody else. I think that’s why we ran out of fuel.”
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