NASCAR Xfinity Series
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Feb 20, 2022
Richard Childress owes one of his newest drivers an elk hunt at some point soon because Austin Hill immediately did his part of an agreement between the two on Saturday night.
Austin Hill emerged victorious in the Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner 300, his first race since joining Richard Childress Racing in the off-season, and that was one of the two promises exchanged between the two outdoorsmen.
The other just got easier to accomplish after Saturday.
"RC made a comment in a meeting before the season that he wanted me to win two races," Hill said during his post-race press conference. "Well, we got one under the book, and I expect a lot more than two to come, that’s for sure."
Oh, and that other thing too, now.
"He also owes me a little elk hunt," Hill said. "He told me if I won a race this year, we’d go elk hunting, so I’m going to keep beating him up on that offer now."
Hill spent the past six seasons in the Truck Series, his first three as a journeyman and the final three at Hattori Racing Enterprises where he became an eight-time winner and perpetual championship threat. Hill also made sporadic appearances in the Xfinity Series where he impressed Childress enough to consummate a deal with the combined funding both bring to the table.
"This is the reason we brought Austin over," Childress said. "We knew he could win. I’ve been watching his talent for several years in the trucks, and even watching him in some of the Xfinity races, and I knew that he has the talent to win. This won’t be the last one; I’ll predict that."
Hill hoped to have become a Truck Series champion by now but was always foiled late in the playoffs for various reasons, despite consistently putting up big numbers in the regular season. There have been previous offers to run the Xfinity Series before this season, but Hill and his partners were only going to pull the lever for the right opportunity.
Fellow Truck Series contender, and 2020 champion, Sheldon Creed made a similar decision in joining Childress this season, too.
"I think they’re going to make two great partners out there racing," Childress said. "I seen it tonight. Sheldon has got a lot of talent, as well, and I think we’ll see a lot out of him. I’m excited. I’m as excited about the Xfinity as I was when we had Tyler (Reddick) come in and we won a championship with him and backed it up. It’s just cool to have this caliber of driver here."
Hill intends to validate that conviction.
The victory on Saturday comes with a little bit of déjà vu as Hill also won in his first Truck Series appearance for Hattori in 2019. That win came in the aftermath of Hattori parting ways with defending champion Brett Moffitt over the winter to come to terms with Hill, and there was a subset of the fandom that rooted against him as a result.
"Nobody knew who I was when I won back in 2019," Hill said. "You had all the haters, had all the people talking, 'oh, that’s going to be the only win he gets,' or 'he’s only going to win at a superspeedway' and 'he’s not going to get the job done anywhere else.'
"I thought that ’19 was a really big win," but he also thinks this is bigger.
"It’s hard to beat Xfinity, winning in the Xfinity Series," Hill said. "You’re one level up from the truck level. I think it means a little bit more.
"But also, I think people take me a lot more serious nowadays, especially seeing how I’ve run the last three years in the Truck Series. So, I think people are going to take me a lot more seriously when it comes to the Xfinity level, and I think I’m going to gain respect a lot faster than I did in the truck level."
Childress owes him an elk hunt, but one win isn't enough yet.
"I said at least two races," Childress said.
The implication being the more the merrier.
"That's right, at least, at least," Hill said.
After Saturday, and given the past three years in the Truck Series, why not more?