KNPSE: Three-Peat; Hill Wires Field for Season-Opening K&N East Win at New Smyrna

Jacob Seelman Featured, Southeast, Touring Series 1 Comment

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Getty Images for NASCAR photo —

Austin Hill has taken a liking to winning NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races. Sunday night at New Smyrna Speedway, he did so with a little extra flair.

Hill, 20, rocketed to the lead after winning the 21 Means 21 Pole Award and never looked back on the field from there, besting a 26-car field and leading wire-to-wire to win the Hart to Heart Breast Cancer Foundation 150.

The victory was the Winston, Georgia native’s fourth career K&N East victory and third straight dating back to last September at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

“We were pretty tight all through practice but with about 20 minutes to go in practice, we finally hit on something,” Hill said of his afternoon. “We got the pole and then to lead every lap means a lot to me. We’re a family-owned team and to be able to make our mark in NASCAR and now to go three in a row — it’s really special.”

“I got to thank Robert Yates Engines, they give me awesome engines every week,” Hill added. “Every time we hit the track I know we have plenty of power. I can’t thank my dad enough, without him I wouldn’t be where I am today. Hopefully we can get this championship, we are on a good streak right now so hopefully we can keep it going.”

Dalton Sargeant charged forward with 40 laps to go to grab the runner-up spot in his series debut, and almost got to Hill in the final stages before Hill shot away on a green-white-checkered finish.

“It was just a car length off of first, so it’s a bit disappointing,” said Sargeant, who started ninth after an engine change in the morning. “But overall for my first race in the K&N Pro Series East, we had a really good run.”

“It was intense for sure. This track is really tough if you’re starting on the bottom. You get pinched down and you spin the tires a little bit, it’s really hard to get the momentum rolling and get up on the outside to pass the guy. You definitely either have to make a dive-bomb attempt or have to be rolling around the outside pretty fast. But overall it was a good night.”

Gray Gaulding, Scott Heckert and rookie Kyle Benjamin rounded out the top five.

The race featured a green flag run for the opening 70 laps before Jared Irvan looped his No. 28 machine in turn two to bring out the caution for the first time. On the first restart of the night, Kaz Grala got stacked up on the inside lane and went for a ride in his No. 3 Toyota, getting a piece of the inside wall and necessitating repairs. Grala would end up finishing 18th, one lap down.

The race’s two biggest cautions flew at laps 116 and 127, both for multi-car incidents.

On lap 116, J.P. Morgan got turned in front of the field and collected David Garbo Jr., Collin Cabre and Devon Amos when the track closed off. Eleven laps later, J.J. Haley was making a move to crack the top five when he was tagged by Ronnie Bassett Jr. entering turn three, sending Haley hard into the wall and Bassett to the rear for aggressive driving. Haley finished 21st and Bassett Jr. 16th, one lap down.

From there, Hill found the afterburners in his A&D Welding Ford and began to pull away from Sargeant on the restart with 15 laps to go, but a crash between Bassett Jr. and Sergio Pena with four laps to go necessitated the green-white-checkered attempt.

A crash between Rico Abreu and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion Anthony Kumpen in turn four coming to the checkered flag drew the sixth and final caution and officially ended the race under the yellow. Kumpen limped across the line in 14th and Abreu was credited with 17th in his K&N East debut.

Due to the green-white-checkered attempt, the race was officially pushed one lap beyond its scheduled 150-lap distance at the finish.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to the track for their second race of the season on April 4 at Greenville Pickens Speedway.

The Hart To Heart Breast Cancer Foundation 150 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

 

RESULTS: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East; New Smyrna Speedway; Hart to Heart Breast Cancer Foundation 150

  1. Austin Hill
  2. Dalton Sargeant
  3. Gray Gaulding
  4. Scott Heckert
  5. Kyle Benjamin
  6. Dillon Bassett
  7. William Byron
  8. Nick Drake
  9. Sergio Pena
  10. Kenzie Ruston
  11. Dalton Zehr
  12. David Garbo Jr.
  13. Codie Rohrbaugh
  14. Anthony Kumpen
  15. Collin Cabre
  16. Ronnie Bassett Jr.
  17. Rico Abreu
  18. Kaz Grala
  19. Christian Celaya
  20. John Holleman IV
  21. J.J. Haley
  22. J.P. Morgan
  23. Devon Amos
  24. Jared Irvan
  25. Jay Beasley
  26. Travis Miller

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