Hill wins at Daytona as airborne crash ends Xfinity opener

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Austin Hill celebrates in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Austin Hill won the Xfinity Series opener at Daytona International Speedway following Myatt Snider's airborne crash that shredded a chunk of catchfence directly in front of where Michael Jordan was watching Saturday night.

Jordan was on the backside of the catchfence with driver Bubba Wallace, an amateur photographer who often takes pictures during NASCAR's lower-series events. The field soared past them on the final lap when Snider was hit from behind, causing Snider to turn right into the wall.

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Snider was then hit again by another car and that contact caused Snider's car to sail up into the fence and then bounce back onto the track. The shredded carcass was stripped to a heap of battered steel and even the engine block was ripped from the car.

Snider was able to climb from his car by himself.

Hill, meanwhile, had pulled alongside leader AJ Allmendinger on the final lap and was scored ahead when NASCAR called the caution. NASCAR had to review the finish before ruling the win for Hill, who moved up from the Truck Series this season to for a full-time Xfinity ride with Richard Childress Racing.

Hill's win in his very first race with RCR was the first victory this week at Daytona for Chevrolet. Ford had won two Daytona 500 qualifying races and Friday night's Truck Series opener, won by Zane Smith in his first race for Front Row Motorsports.

Hill made it three consecutive nights that a new driver-team pairing went to Daytona's victory lane. Brad Keselowski won a Thursday night qualifier with RFK Racing, the rebrand of Jack Roush's team that Keselowski joined as a part-owner.

Hill said he used the entire race to work with spotter Derek Kneeland to ensure that Hill was learning enough to make a plan on how to attack at the end.

“I was learning all night. I kept telling him, 'I’m just putting that in the bank. I’m putting that in the bank. I’m putting that in the memory bank to remember for late in the race,” Hill said. “We timed it perfectly. Obviously, that caution came out, but we had a heck of a run, so who knows what would have happened there.”


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