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via Getty

via Getty

Denny Hamlin has competition. Over the years, Hamlin has embraced the tag of NASCAR’s villain on the track but now another name has come up to potentially stake his claim. At the final stages of the Focused Health 250 Xfinity race at COTA. Shane Van Gisbergen led an astounding 20 laps and was tied with his Kaulig Racing teammate A.J. Allmendinger for most of the race. However, Austin Hill made a move that turned the tables. SVG retaliated and as a result, he received a penalty post-race for short-cutting the track on the final lap.

That dropped him to a disappointing P27, even after ending at P2. Although Hill ended as a runner-up, he is constantly being criticized by fans all across social media. NASCAR insiders expressed their views regarding the same.

Austin Hill – The New Villain in the NASCAR world?

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‘Rubbin is Racing’ opened up on the COTA Xfinity last lap incident. The show hosted by Large Barstool had Dan DiOrio as a guest. Both of them failed to understand why people are showering so much hatred on Hill. Looking at the amount of negative comments, DiOrio questioned if Hill even has fans.

“Is Austin Hill the villain NASCAR needs? I didn’t see any smoke afterwards. I didn’t see anybody approach anybody. Austin Hill vs SVG. We can get that on f***ing rough and rowdy. I say we do it, right?” said Large Barstool.

“Does Austin Hill have fans? People are so f***ing critical of him,” said DiOrio. To this Barstook replied, “They hate him. We gotta have him on.”

DiOrio agreed and added, “Yeah, we should get to the bottom of that. People absolutely despise Austin Hill. And I’m somewhere in the middle. Part of me thinks that a lot of their criticism is justified. Part of me thinks that he needs to just go the other way and just become the heel of the Xfinity Series.”

Hill, on the other hand, tried to justify his bumping into SVG but was critical when the latter did the same. “But getting into 15, I’m trying to protect and it felt like from my perspective, the 97 just ran through us. And I mean you see his front end; it’s caved in really bad. So he didn’t even give us a chance to make the corner obviously,” he said after the race.

But this wasn’t the first time Hill was on the receiving end of fans’ backlash. His villain story does have an origin of its own.

At Martinsville 2023, he and teammate Sheldon Creed were fighting for the win and a Championship 4 spot at Martinsville in the closing laps. The two then made contact several times and were eliminated, with neither driver making the playoffs. After the race, fans felt Creed was going for the win until Hill barged in. Then Hill revealed that Creed was leaving RCR and going to Gibbs in 2024 and even said he”Cannot wait” for Creed to leave RCR.

This, in addition to Creed’s claims that RCR favored Hill over him, led to many fans casting Hill as the villain. However, the fan dislike for Hill goes further back to the Matt Snider incident.

Read More: Austin Hill Not Liking the Taste of His Own Medicine With Shane van Gisbergen Hitting Back at COTA

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Austin Hill punched Matt Snider after a wreck

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Martinsville was also the venue for Hill’s outburst against Jordan Anderson Racing’s Matt Snider. During a heated race, Hill’s car collided with Snider’s late during the Round of 8 elimination. After the race, as both came down the pit road, a scuffle broke out. Hill confronted Snider and punched him before others got involved to separate them.

After the incident, Hill appeared unapologetic and said, “When you come to these races, you’re not friends with anybody.” Well, after his recent comments it doesn’t appear Hill is too bothered by being labeled as a villain.

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Having won the Xfinity race at Atlanta, and United Rentals 300 at Daytona, Hill looks to be in great touch and the criticism from fans may just fuel him to more success.

Read More: NASCAR Insider Warns Austin Hill as RCR’s 19-YO Racing Prodigy Sends Ripples Across the Xfinity Series