Richard Childress’ Championship Hopeful Credits Rick Hendrick’s Prized Pupil for His Racing Fixation

Published 10/25/2023, 5:13 PM EDT

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Austin Hill has only been a full-time Xfinity Series driver since the start of 2022. Yet, he has fast become a mainstay in the division owing to solid results. The 2022 Rookie of the Year has made the playoffs again this year. Now, the 29-year-old Georgia native would be targeting to improve on his fifth place from last season or, in fact, even win the championship this time around. But how did he first get the racing bug?

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Austin Hill may be driving the #21 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing today, but his on-track fascination came from elsewhere. He revealed his racing origins in an in-depth conversation with Dale Earnhardt Jr on the latter’s podcast. Believe it or not, it all begins with Hendrick Motorsports and one of their all-time greats. 

Austin Hill narrates how his father “pulled for” HMS legend

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Austin Hill made an appearance on Dale Earnhardt Jr’s podcast, “The Dale Jr. Download” and gave a sneak peek into his early racing days. He credited his father for introducing him to NASCAR.

“So my dad, when I was two-three years old, started getting into watching the races on Saturdays and Sundays,” Hill remembered. 

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Austin Hill’s father supported HMS icon Jeff Gordon right from the ‘Wonder Boy’s’ initial racing outings. “He always pulled for Jeff Gordon when Gordon was coming into the scene and into the rankings… I would be glued to the TV at three years old watching four-hour races. Me and my dad would sit on the couch and literally just tune in,” Hill said as he reminisced about his childhood. 

It was inevitable from that point that Austin Hill took to racing as a career. He attended the Georgia State Fair at six years old. There, he registered to race in the North Georgia Quarter Midget Association’s event which “was about an hour” from his house. He said, “At my first race, I finished second or third. It just took off, and I was fully invested in it.” But Austin Hill has also relished the challenge of racing during tough periods. 

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Hill on racing through the economic recession

Austin Hill’s racing journey hit a stumbling block during the 2008 financial crisis. He said, “My dad’s business wasn’t doing good. So for two years, I didn’t race much at all… I ended up working for my dad for those two years.” And yet, Austin Hill yearned for the racing asphalt. 

He recounted the time when he raced in the Legend cars series with little to no equipment. He said, “If I needed to make an adjustment, I had to borrow a quick jack from somebody.” Still, he believes that time was the most fun he had in racing. 

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Watch This Story: NASCAR PR Crisis: Richard Childress Racing vs Sheldon Creed

Austin Hill’s early racing story is a stark reminder of how challenges shape racing acumen for the better. The two-time winner at Daytona has a penchant for beginning seasons on a positive note. He missed out on the Championship 4 race last year but would leave no stone unturned to end the campaign on a high this time around.

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Written by:

Abhishek Ramesh

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Abhishek Ramesh is a NASCAR Editor and Author at EssentiallySports. He has always worked to combine his eternal love for sports with the skills of media space. After initial professional acquaintance with print and web news, Abhishek worked in the sports opinion trading industry.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh

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