Austin Hill has been named the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year following the Xfinity Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, November 5.
The news comes as the 28-year-old Hill from Winston, Georgia, is coming off his first full-time campaign in the Xfinity circuit behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing, where he achieved two victories, one pole, 12 top-five results, 21 top-10 results, 329 laps led and an average-finishing result of 11.0 throughout the 33-race schedule.
Hill graduated to a full-time Xfinity campaign for this season after spending the previous four seasons in the NASCAR Truck Series, where he accumulated eight victories and three Playoff appearances. He commenced his rookie Xfinity campaign on a high note by winning the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway in February and achieving his first career victory in the Xfinity circuit. The victory occurred on a last-lap pass on veteran AJ Allmendinger, whom Hill managed to overtake prior to a caution due to a multi-car wreck occurring on the backstretch that concluded the event and handed the victory to Hill and RCR.
Following his victory at Daytona, Hill accumulated two runner-up results, five top-five results and eight top-10 results during the next 15-scheduled events. He then scored his second Xfinity career victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his home track, in July following a dominant run to the finish. The pair of victories were more than enough for Hill to solidify his spot for the 2022 Xfinity Series Playoffs as he earned six additional top-10 results for the remainder of the regular-season stretch. Despite finishing second, 14th and 29th, respectively, during the Round of 12, Hill transferred to the Round of 8. He, however, did not transfer to the Championship 4 round despite finishing in the top 10 throughout the Round of 8. Despite being involved in a post-race altercation fight with Myatt Snider at Martinsville Speedway in October, he rallied by finishing ninth during the finale at Phoenix, which was good enough to conclude this season in sixth place in the final driver’s standings behind Allmendinger.
With his accomplishment, Hill became the first competitor to capture the Xfinity rookie title while representing RCR since former series champion Austin Dillon made the last accomplishment in 2012. He also became the first Chevrolet competitor to claim the award since Tyler Reddick made the last accomplishment in 2018, where he won his first of back-to-back titles.
Hill’s rivals for this year’s Xfinity rookie title featured teammate Sheldon Creed, Kyle Sieg and Jesse Iwuji.
Hill’s Xfinity plans for 2023 have not been formally announced, though it is expected that he will be returning for a second full-time campaign with RCR. He is also scheduled to make six starts in the NASCAR Cup Series for Beard Motorsports, beginning with the 65th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway which is scheduled to occur on February 19.
The Xfinity Series competitors and teams enter an off-season period before returning to action at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2023, to commence a new season of racing.