Georgia native Austin Hill became an unlikely winner of the RAPTOR King of Tough 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway after his teammate Jesse Love, who dominated the race, ran out of fuel in a wild overtime finish.

Pole-winner Love dominated the race in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevy, winning the first and second stages and leading a race-best 157 laps of the 163 total, but a late race caution flew with two laps to go when Ryan Sieg’s car stopped on the track. None of the leaders pitted during the caution which extended the race by six laps and it ultimately ended Love’s night as his car sputtered and fell off the pace just after he mashed the gas to led the field to the final green flag.

That opened the door for Hill to streak to the win and score his third Xfinity Series victory at his home track. It was Hill’s eighth career Xfinity Series victory.

Hill, who opened the season with a victory at Daytona last weekend, only led two laps in the race, the final two in his royal blue and white No. 21 RCR Chevy. He is the first Xfinity Series driver to open the season with back-to-back victories since Tony Stewart did it in 2008. He is only the fourth Xfinity Series driver to do it in NASCAR history (also Dale Earnhardt Sr. ’86 and Chad Little ’95).

“We were riding in fourth and fifth and I was saving fuel and fortunately I had enough fuel to complete those laps,” Hill said.  “I want to congratulate Jesse Love for what he did tonight. For a rookie to lead all the laps like he did, he should be sitting here in victory lane tonight. But it’s awesome to win again here at my home track and to win here for the third time. Man, what a race. I thought we were down and out and here we are in victory lane baby.”

Chandler Smith rallied to finish second in his No. 81 Toyota. He charged behind Hill as the two headed to the finish line. Hill took the checkered flag .106-of-a-second in front of Smith. 

“A part of me was like we might have a good shot here,” Smith said. “Really proud of everyone. We had a fast car and hopefully we made it somewhat exciting there at the end for the fans.”

Love eventually finished 12th and seemed somewhat composed after his bad luck at the end of the race.

“You kinda have to laugh it off,” Love said. “It’s just a big bummer for all our guys. But I’m really proud of this Whelen team. No matter what, we had a great showing and led a lot of laps. It just wasn’t in store for us.”

Rookie Shane Van Gisbergen finished third in his No. 97 Chevy and was followed by Sheldon Creed in the No. 18 Toyota and Parker Retzlaff at the controls of the No. 31 Chevy in the top five.

Other notable finishers include Jeffrey Earnhardt, who posted an eighth-place finish in his No. 26 Toyota. It was Earnhardt’s eighth career top-10 finish in the Xfinity Series. Ryan Truex finished ninth in his No. 19 Toyota. Justin Allgaier was challenging for the lead late in the race and also ran out of fuel at the end and finished 28th. John Hunter Nemechek ran up front early but ultimately finished 32nd after his Toyota had sparks coming from under the car with five laps to go.

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