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Rookie Hill Conquers Monster Mile

Kwasniewski's K&N Pro East Points Lead Sliced To 5 Over Moffitt
By Jason Christley, NASCAR
September 27, 2013 - 6:43pm
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DOVER, Del. - Austin Hill faced the Monster Mile and didn't blink.

The 19-year-old from Winston, Ga., conquered the high-banked mile oval in the Drive Sober 150 presented by Delaware Office of Highway Safety Friday afternoon. It was Hill's first win in his seventh career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start.

"I can't thank everyone enough -- the LaJoies and all them and all they've done," said Hill. "This track is really hard. It's a fast track. I've never been on a track this fast.

"A track like this is crazy. It gets pretty intense. On Lap 75, though, I knew we had a shot at winning. We just had to get back to the front."

POS DRIVER
1 Austin Hill
2 Justin Boston
3 Kyle Benjamin
4 Brandon McReynolds
5 Jesse Little

The race on the 1-mile high-banked concrete oval also featured a huge points swing. Dylan Kwasniewski, whose lead was 40 two races ago, was sidelined early by electrical issues. He returned to the track and finished 48 laps down in 29th. His nearest challenger, Brett Moffitt, finished 11th to slice Kwasniewski's lead to just five heading into the finale at Road Atlanta on Friday, Oct. 18.

Hill's No. 13 Don Rich Ford/A&D Welding Ford led a parade of rookies who captured the top three spots and six of the top eight.

Justin Boston finished second and Kyle Benjamin third. Boston, 24, was making his second series start while Benjamin, 15, was making his debut.

"The thing we battled most on the Zloop Camry was getting back through traffic," said Boston, who started 12th. "We were back in the pack for a while. It seemed like every time we got behind someone we got really aero tight and every time that happen we struggled getting off the corner. So that was the thing we struggled with most today. But I can tell you that it’s a lot of fun going around a mile race track almost wide open."

Said Benjamin: "We had a really good car. We started off extremely loose at the beginning and towards the end the car got really tight. Our Rain Eater Federated Dodge was really good today overall. ... The Monster Mile has a lot of speed, definitely the fastest I’ve gone, which wasn’t really to big of a problem, it was a lot of fun."

Brandon McReynolds and rookie Jesse Little were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Hill took the lead on Lap 88 from Delaware-native CJ Faison, who led a race-high 77 laps, and led the rest of the way.

A late-race caution set up a final four-lap dash for the finish. Boston and Benjamin briefly went three-wide with Hill on the restart, but Hill was able to emerge with the lead. He beat Boston to the line by .412 seconds.

"I got a pretty good restart," said Hill. "But going into (Turn) 1, Kyle Benjamin held his ground coming off the corner and I got a little free and caused Justin Boston to get under me. And when he did I knew going into (Turn) 3, I just had to hold it wide open or at least try to and that was the only way I was going to win.

"When I came off of (Turn) 4 and I knew I had the lead, I knew there was nothing stopping me."

Hill's previous best finish was seventh at Richmond in April. The win also marked the fifth trip to Victory Lane for Hill's crew chief, Andy Santerre. He won as a driver in 2005 and then as a car owner with Sean Caisse in 2007 and Brett Moffitt in 2009. Santerre was Director of Competition for Rev Racing when Darrell Wallace Jr. won in 2011.

"He helped me out a lot," Hill said of Santerre. "He just kept talking to me, telling me to stay calm, you can get them back, you can get back to the front.

"The restarts were the hardest for me, especially how fast this track is. You're out of the throttle for only a couple seconds and then you're
back in it."

Daniel Suarez was sixth, followed by rookies Brandon Jones and Trey Hutchens. Austin Dyne and Dylan Presnell rounded out the top 10.

The race had six cautions for 26 laps. 

The Drive Sober 150 will air on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 13 at noon. It will also replay on Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY | AUDIO: POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE WITH WINNER AUSTIN HILL | AUDIO: POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE WITH SECOND-PLACE JUSTIN BOSTON AND THIRD-PLACE KYLE BENJAMIN

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Austin Hill (13) races side-by-side with Kyle Benjamin in the closing laps of the Drive Sober 150 at Dover International Speedway Friday. Getty Images for NASCAR