Austin Hill rode like the wind on a day that required it.
With 30-mph gusts whipping up rooster tails of dust, Hill drove past rookie Chandler Smith as the two took the white flag and held on to win Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at blustery Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“The 16 got really far out (in front), and I knew I had to not abuse the tires and methodically work our way through traffic,” Hill said of reeling in the dominant car and driver during the closing laps for his fourth win in 51 Xfinity starts.
Veteran Justin Allgaier also got around Smith on the last lap to finish .268 of a second behind Hill’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Smith, who led a race-high 115 laps, settled for third with Las Vegas’ Kyle Busch coming in fourth, about seven seconds behind the lead trio.
Fellow Las Vegan Riley Herbst ran in the lead pack the entire day en route to finishing eighth – his third top-10 finish in as many 2023 starts.
“We were great on the long runs, but after green-flag pit stops there weren’t any cautions to help us get bunched up again. We were just kind of stuck,” he said. “I’m happy to see the consistency to start out the year and to have speed each and every week.”
Elliott out indefinitely
Hendrick Motorsports officials said 2020 Cup Series champion Chase Elliott was doing well after undergoing surgery Friday night to repair a broken left leg following a snowboarding accident in Colorado. They also said there was no timetable for his return to the track.
One of the first drivers to reach out to Elliott was Busch, who suffered a compound fracture of his right leg and a broken left foot in a crash during the closing laps of a 2015 Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch missed 10 races before bouncing back to win his first of two Cup Series titles.
“I told him I’d be happy to help and talk to him and do all the things I did to help my recovery be speedy,” Busch said Saturday.
Victory lane, memory lane
After winning Friday night’s Truck Series race on his hometown track, Busch was asked about his alma mater Durango High winning last week’s Class 5A boys basketball state championship.
“Durango won? Oh, cool. Right on. That’s awesome,” he said during the postrace news conference.
“I was there for a lot of championships with Al La Rocque (father of Lady Rebels coach and former Durango star Lindy La Rocque) being the coach. He was my first period computer teacher, and I think I slept through about 80 percent of his class.”
Busch said he also indirectly owes the former dean of local high school basketball coaches for steering him in the right direction when it came to a career in sports.
“I went to his basketball camp a few times, and I can’t say he ever told me I was going to make the NBA,” Busch said.