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Austin Hill Clutches Up Late to Win Thriller at Pocono!


LONG POND, P.A. -- The Nascar Xfinity Series main evented a lengthy and sunny three-race day, Saturday, July 22, at Pocono Raceway, as Austin Hill stunned the field late in the Explore the Pocono Mountains 225.


Early on the race was commanded strongly by Junior Motorsports driver Josh Berry, winning the first stage. Strategy also was most of the talk throughout the day, however not much was seen in the early portion of the race. Trackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suarez, who raced in Kaulig Racing's #10 LeafHome Water Chevrolet, seemed to be the only driver to make some progress halfway into the first stage, as over the stretch, he netted a gain of six spots to find himself in 17th.

The second stage saw an issue for Alpha Prime Racing driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, as he found some trouble with the rear sway bar. Unfortunately that was not the only issue Alpha Prime Racing had throughout the day, as Sage Karam had issues as well in Stage 1.

Pit strategy however began to come to life at the end of the stage, as with five laps to go, Big Machine Racing driver Parker Kligerman opened the four-tire brigade. One lap later, Richard Childress Racing driver Sheldon Creed and RSS Racing driver Ryan Sieg followed suit. Daniel Suarez tested a different strategy, going for two tires as Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice came over the radio to Daniel Hemric saying that it would be experimented with Suarez to see if full-timers Hemric and Chandler Smith could use the strategy later on. Josh Berry got challenged late by Junior Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier, but was able to hold on during the final lap.

The caution prior to the start of Stage 3 saw even more strategic chaos, as Allgaier decided to play the track position strategy staying out, planning to pit as soon as the window opened. What also seemed to be a huge blow under the break was Austin Hill speeding, but as it turned out, luck was actually on his side from the misfortune.

Starting things off after the green flag dropped, regular season championship contenders John Hunter Nemechek of Joe Gibbs Racing, who was the points leader coming in, and Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing collided down the front straight, both nosing into the wall, effectively ending their days. To make matters worse for John Hunter, the wreck was initiated off a push from JGR teammate Sammy Smith.

Daniel Suarez's strategy turned out to not work once the green flag flew again, as he immediately fell down the running order, being the first driver to pit for tires. A lap later leader Justin Allgaier gave up the lead to make his green flag pit stop and take four tires. Parker Kligerman pitted after making an interesting call to take fuel only, but ultimately never cycled out to the lead, as later on with 29 laps to go, Josh Berry came down and completed his service, beating both Kligerman and Allgaier out and re-assuming the provisional lead.

Where the race changed however was with 11 laps to go, as Allgaier tapped the back of Emerling Gase Motorsports driver Joey Gase sending him spinning. During this process Stewart-Haas Racing driver Riley Herbst who was saving fuel, found himself in prime position to potentially capitalize on the late race restart.

Josh Berry, again with fresher tires than everyone else, made quick work of Herbst as both himself and Austin Hill, who was also on fuel strategy battled for the lead. Berry cleared and started to pull away but his drive was halted as Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Connor Mosack pounded the wall exiting the tunnel turn, setting up a green-white-checkered.

On the ensuing restart, Berry seemed to boost out to a decent lead over Junior Motorsports teammate Sam Mayer who was on his inside. Things changed quickly though as Berry overdrove the corner washed up on exit allowing Hill to capitalize.

Hill crossed the line leading for the white flag, but Berry immediately brought the pressure in turn one, forcing his way underneath Hill. Hill stood strong though as both drivers made contact down the Long Pond Straight, causing Berry to lose momentum and then make contact again with the left front of Ryan Sieg. As it turned out, this sealed the race for Hill, as Berry cut down a tire crashing into the Tunnel Turn with Sieg as well cutting down his left front and crashing a few yards down the straight away.

The caution flew and Austin Hill earned his fourth win of the season. This win especially huge, because not only did hill earn the win late, capitalizing on the mistake, but he also ultimately rebounded from a speeding penalty to win, and find himself just fourteen points off the championship lead heading into Road America next week. An absolute stunning conclusion to what was a brilliant day of racing at Pocono Raceway.

Austin Hill was fired up after capturing the victory. "I'm going to hang loose and party tonight. I didn't think I was going to win this race. This was a surprise."

Up Next:

Motorsports Today continues coverage tomorrow for the main event of the weekend, as the Nascar Cup Series hosts the 400 at 2:30. Coverage can be found on USA and you can continue following the action as well with us on Twitter @MtrsprtsToday!

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