Race Weekend Central

Talladega Eludes Austin Hill as RCR Teammate Jesse Love Triumphs

TALLADEGA, Ala. – When it comes to superspeedway racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the combination of Austin Hill and Richard Childress Racing has been a tale of dominance. 

“You come here every time thinking that if we’re there at the end and running in the top five or so, you can possibly win the race,” Hill said. 

Since the start of 2022, Hill has won a combined six superspeedway races. That included the first two races of this year at Daytona and Atlanta. But Hill’s stumbling block when it comes to restrictor-plate racing, plus a product of this style of racing, kept the Georgia driver out of victory lane in Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega. Superspeedway.

Hill appeared to have a usually stout car on Saturday, winning the second stage and finishing fourth in the opener won by RCR teammate Jesse Love. Hill was in a position to close out the win late before he and Parker Kligerman got together in turns 3 and 4. Hill, who finished 14th after sustaining damage, chalked up the late-race clashing to superspeedway racing. 

“From the replay, it looked like he just slid across my nose,” Hill said. “It was fine when he was pushing me getting into the corner, but as he slid across my nose, I kind of went up toward the wall and kind of got in a moment of where i couldn’t turn the wheel. It’s just one of those racing deals that happens in these superspeedway races.” 

Kligerman, who would finish 29th after crashing on a late restart, was disheartened to no longer have Hill to work with for at least one reason.

“It was the best he and I had ever worked together,” Kligerman said. “I felt terrible. I was like, ‘what the [heck], that just took away my best helper.’ I didn’t know what else to do in that position because I was not really hitting him. I don’t know what else to do. We’ll talk about it.” 

But while Kligerman and Hill went from frontrunners to finishing further in the back, Hill’s RCR teammate raced his way to Talladega glory, edging ahead of a top-five group of drivers with three of them seeking his first win. Love took the checkered ahead of Riley Herbst, Anthony Alfredo, Leland Honeyman, and Brennan Poole

Ironically, Love says that he didn’t expect superspeedways to be his strongest point entering 2024. That didn’t show on Saturday. 

“I thought speedways would be my worst aspect due lack of of experience,” Love said.

But…

“Obviously, RCR cars are fast with ECR engines,” Love added. “Me and Austin work well together. In the first two stages, wherever he’d go, I’d try to follow him.”

As for Hill, Talladega will remain a track that he’ll likely covet a victory at.

“Here at Dega for some reason, I seem to find the big ones when they happen,” Hill said. “It seems like I find the big ones when they happen.” 

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