Photo courtesy of Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Comeback complete for Austin Hill!
Leading a race-high 118 of 200 laps, it appeared as though Chandler Smith would cruise his way to his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win but as Smith’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet began to tighten up, Austin Hill took advantage and passed Smith with two laps to go to win his second race in 2023.
What a battle to the finish! Retweet to congratulate Austin Hill on his NASCAR Xfinity Series WIN in Las Vegas. pic.twitter.com/XRg807lfQt
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 4, 2023
“I just knew I had to not abuse the tires and try to methodically work our way through traffic,” Hill said after the race. “Track was really tough today. You had to really paint the line down in [Turns] 3 and 4. If you missed it by half an inch, you paid for it for a whole lap. That’s just really what I stuck to all race long was just trying to be really disciplined down there in 3 and 4.
“I saw the 16 struggling in traffic and my spotter was like ‘Come on baby, you can get it. You got five to go, four to go, three to go..’ I saw him [Smith] get tight off of [Turn] 4 there and I knew I had painted the line perfectly and I knew that if I could clear him down the frontstretch, I felt like we could hold him off.”
Smith settled for a third-place finish after being passed by Hill and Justin Allgaier with two laps to go. It marked the second straight top-five finish for the 20-year-old Georgia driver.
“I got a little tight at the very end which it is what it is. That’s a tough pill to swallow,” Smith said. “There’s some things I could’ve done inside before we started building tight just getting my lead to be a little bigger and have a bigger buffer. All in all I can’t be too disappointed. This was my sixth start, third start with Kaulig Racing. We’re gonna win a few races this year for sure.”
During Stage 1, Smith needed to overcome an issue as debris plastered his grille driving up the engine temperatures. The debris came off but did provide a scare for the No. 16 Kaulig Racing team.
Three races into the season, Smith, Hill and Nemechek appear to be the early championship contenders in the series with them all being victorious to open 2023. Hill and Nemechek also split the first two stages at Las Vegas with Hill leading 19 laps in the Alsco Uniforms 300 while Nemechek led 45 of the 200-lap event.
Hill’s win not only marks two victories in the first three races but also three straight top-10 finishes to start 2023.
Justin Allgaier finished second, followed by Smith, Kyle Busch and Josh Berry completing the top five. Nemechek, Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst, Sheldon Creed and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top 10.
The Xfinity Series closes out the three-race West Coast swing with a trip to Arizona for the United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway on March 11 (4:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NOTE: Post-race inspection is complete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage. There were no issues; confirming Austin Hill as the winner. The No. 16 of Chandler Smith had one lug nut missing (monetary fine).
OFFICIAL RACE RESULTS
OFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS
OFFICIAL OWNER POINTS