Austin Hill ended his 2014 season with victories at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC) and at Dover International Speedway (DE), which provided him great momentum leading into the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season. On Sunday night, he continued showing his strength by winning the Hart to Heart Breast Cancer Foundation 150 at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Hill was dominating all day long from winning the pole earlier in the day to leading every lap around the famous half-mile oval.
“We were worried during practice, every change we made didn’t make a difference,” Hill said after the race. “About 20 minutes to go in the final practice, we hit on something and we started working here and there and we were able to get the pole, which is my first in this series, and its pretty awesome.
“To be able to sit on the pole, lead all of the laps and get the win is awesome. I can’t thank these guys enough. We are a small family owned team trying to make it here in NASCAR.”
The 20-year-old from Winston, Georgia led qualifying with a speed of 93.491mph over Kaz Grala and William Byron.
Hill would get the lead at the start holding off an early challenge from Scott Heckert.
Dalton Sargeant, who started ninth, had a long day after he missed of the first practice due to an engine change. He methodically worked his way up through the field.
Heckert had a bad restart on lap 110 allowing Sargeant to battle for the runner-up spot. Sargeant would go to second a lap later.
Sargeant would make a couple of challenges, but Hill was too strong.
The caution flew with five laps to go when Ronnie Bassett spun in turns one and two.
On the restart, Sargeant spun his tires allowing Hill to get away and pick up his third win in a row.
“You just get pinched down here and we spun the tires a little bit where if you are up high, you can roll with the momentum and definitely get better gear shifts,” Sargeant said after the race. “I think if it stayed green I could have gotten by him. I was definitely trying to save everything I could have for that last restart and it looked like I was going to get him in three, but the caution came out. But, it is what it is.”
Gray Gaulding took advantage of the last restart to finish third.
“We struggled a little bit with the car. We were free through the middle and it was getting tighter in the end. The car when up and down all night long, but my guys never quit working on it,” Gaulding said. “We knew we didn’t have the best car and I knew I was going to have to make something happen and that is what we did. I never gave up. It’s a good day to get a top three finish because I don’t think we a top-eight car. Overall, it was a good night and look forward to Greenville-Pickens.”
Heckert finished fourth with Kyle Benjamin rounding out the top-five.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be back in action on Saturday, April 4th at Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina.
– Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Director of Business/Midwest Editor, Twitter: @KevinRamsell
Photo Credit: Mike Ramsell/Speed51.com
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Results
| 1||22||Austin Hill||151||151|
| 2||51||Dalton Sargeant||151||0|
| 3||20||Gray Gaulding||151||0|
| 4||34||Scott Heckert||151||0|
| 5||27||Kyle Benjamin||151||0|
| 6||44||Dillon Bassett||151||0|
| 7||9||William Byron||151||0|
| 8||15||Nick Drake||151||0|
| 9||1||Sergio Pena||151||0|
| 10||4||Kenzie Ruston||151||0|
| 11||36||Dalton Zehr||151||0|
| 12||31||Dave Garbo, Jr.||151||0|
| 13||7||Codie Rohrbaugh||151||0|
| 14||99||Anthony Kumpen||151||0|
| 15||2||Collin Cabre||150||0|
| 16||04||Ronnie Bassett, Jr.||150||0|
| 17||98||Rico Abreu||150||0|
| 18||3||Kaz Grala||149||0|
| 19||45||Christian Celaya||147||0|
| 20||49||John Holleman||132||0|
| 21||5||J.J. Haley||126||0|
| 22||23||J.P. Morgan||118||0|
| 23||6||Devon Amos||118||0|
| 24||28||Jared Irvan||69||0|
| 25||42||Jay Beasley||49||0|
| 26||40||Travis Miller||0||0|