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TC Daily Pit Stop: Austin Hill Snags Win from Chandler Smith Late; Elliott Recovering from Three-Hour Surgery; Burton Crashes in Practice
TC Daily Pit Stop: Sunday, March 5th, 2023
PHOTO CREDIT: Meg Oliphant, Getty Images, Courtesy of NASCAR Media
Austin Hill wasn’t the dominant driver in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he was able to pull into victory lane, after making a late-race pass of Chandler Smith.
The triumph – Hill’s third at Las Vegas Motor Speedway across NASCAR’s National Series – continued a brilliant start to the year for the Richard Childress Racing driver, after capturing the victory in the season-opener at Daytona.
This marks Hill’s fourth-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win and it’s his first victory at a non-superspeedway-style race in the series. Hill says scoring a win at a normal intermediate track is sweet.
Also in the middle of the battle for the win was Justin Allgaier, who was able to sneak around Smith’s Kaulig Racing entry on the final lap to score a runner-up result, marking his third consecutive top-three to start the 2023 campaign.
Chandler Smith, making his sixth start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and his third for Kaulig Racing, was able to record a career-high third-place result in Saturday’s 300-mile event, continuing a strong bout of momentum for the rookie driver.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Coppley, HHP, Courtesy of Chevy Racing
On Saturday, Hendrick Motorsports provided updates on the condition of Chase Elliott, the driver of the team’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro. According to team president and general manager Jeff Andrews, Elliott underwent a successful three-hour surgery to repair a fractured tibia following an injury sustained during a snowboarding trip in Colorado on Friday.
Andrews states that Elliott is, “Doing well,” and is expected to be released from the hospital that performed the surgery on Saturday.
While Elliott and the team are still gathering information on the injury that the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion sustained on Friday, a full timeline of when to expect Elliott back behind the wheel is unavailable. However, Andrews says that the expectation is that Elliott will miss several weeks.
“That’s really the extent that we know. There is no timeline at this point in time. We would expect this, obviously, to be several weeks, but beyond that I don’t have a timeline to offer for you,” Andrews said. “We’ll obviously work with Chase and his doctors in the future to determine that.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Craig White, TobyChristie.com
Joey Logano has always been strong at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and although he likely had help from the disappearing cloud cover, and the shifting winds, the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang will get to start Sunday’s race from the pole.
Last season, two of Logano’s four victories were secured from the pole position, something that the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has done a total of six times throughout his 15-year career.
Posting a mind-boggling time of 29.024 seconds (186.053mph), Logano led the field by nearly 15 hundredths of a second in the second round of Saturday’s single-car qualifying session.
William Byron will start alongside Logano on the front row for Sunday’s 400-mile contest, after posting some solid short-run and long-run speed throughout practice and qualifying for the third race of the year.
Ryan Blaney will start from third place, while Ty Gibbs posted a solid fourth-place result in qualifying, the best start of his NASCAR Cup Series career. Kyle Busch will look to continue his hot streak with a top-five starting spot.
If Harrison Burton and Wood Brothers Racing are to score a solid finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Las Vegas, they’re going to have lots of adversity to overcome.
Burton, in his second-year of competition in the NASCAR Cup Series, was headed down the frontstretch at full-speed when fluid from his No. 21 Ford Mustang got on his right-side tires, sending him for a ride in the first corner.
For a second, it looked like Burton was going to be able to pull off an incredible save, and salvage his primary car for Sunday’s 400-mile contest. However, mid-drift, the car overcorrected and slammed into the outside wall head-on.
PHOTO CREDIT: Craig White, TobyChristie.com
It has been a less-than-ideal start to the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season for Tyler Reddick, working with an organization other than Richard Childress Racing for the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career.
That difficult start to the year, which has the Corning, California-native currently sitting 38th in NASCAR Cup Series points, has unfortunately carried over to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
When preparing for NASCAR Cup Series practice at the 1.5-mile facility, Reddick and his 23XI Racing team discovered an issue with the engine on his No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD Pro, throwing the team’s entire weekend into dismay.
As a result, 23XI Racing will have to change the engine on Reddick’s Monster Energy-sponsored entry before Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, meaning the team will have to skip Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions.
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