Friday, Sep 22

Beard Motorsports: Austin Hill Atlanta Advance

Notes of Interest

Driver Austin Hill will make his second NASCAR Cup Series start of the 2023 season and the third of his career this weekend in the Atlanta 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 62 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro made his Cup Series debut last season at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn driving the No. 33 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing (RCR). He raced his way to an 18th-place finish after starting 31st. In his first start this season, April’s GEICO 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Hill finished 23rd despite sustaining minor damage in an accident that unfolded in front of him during the final stage.


While Hill is a Cup Series rookie, his racing acumen on the tracks with superspeedway-style racing is anything but novice-like.  Driving for RCR in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Hill has a resume that features a total of five series wins. Among those victories is a pair of wins at Atlanta. In fact, Hill has won the last two Xfinity Series races to take place at the 1.5-mile oval, including his most recent visit to the track in March. 


Sunday night’s race in Atlanta will be just the second of the season for both Hill and Beard Motorsports. The Beard family fielded the No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro with Hill during Speedweek at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway with plans to race in the season-opening Daytona 500. The team was poised to advance to the starting field for the 500 when the No. 62 Chevrolet was caught up in a multicar accident during the closing laps of its Duel qualifying race.


The Bennett Family of Companies is back with the No. 62 Beard Motorsports team for Sunday’s 500-mile race with its Bennett Transportation and Logistics brand. Providing logistics and transportation services for companies across America, the Bennett Family of Companies offers a suite of trucking and specialized logistic services, from flatbed and step deck trucking and manufactured housing transport to RV delivery, customs brokerage, and warehousing. With more than 46 years of experience in the industry, Bennett’s network provides the safest and best possible service to all of its business partners. 


When Hill and the No. 62 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro take the green flag for Sunday’s prime time NASCAR Cup Series race, it will mark a program first for Beard Motorsports. For seven seasons, Beard Motorsports has been a stalwart at NASCAR’s “big tracks” – Daytona and Talladega. Atlanta is one of three tracks that will be new to Beard this season as the team is slated to make starts later this summer at Michigan, as well as the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval in October.


If there is such a thing as a “home-field advantage,” then the No. 62 Chevrolet team is well-suited this weekend as both the driver and sponsor hail from the Peach State. Hill, a Georgia native, is from just outside of Atlanta in Winston, a little less than 60 miles from the 1.5-mile oval located in Hampton. Meanwhile, Bennett Transportation and Logistics is even more closely situated in McDonough, a mere 20 miles from the track.


Sunday’s event kicks off a five-race run over the next three months for Beard Motorsports. In addition to this weekend’s race in Atlanta, the Aug. 6 race at Michigan, and the Oct. 8 race on the Charlotte Roval, the No. 62 Beard team is slated to compete at the season’s second races at Daytona and Talladega in August and October, respectively.


Linda Beard, along with her children, Amie and Mark Jr., continue to carry on the pursuit of their late husband and father, Mark Beard Sr. The management of Beard Motorsports has been and continues to be a passion project for the Michigan natives. Leading the charge for the team in North Carolina is crew chief Darren Shaw, and providing guidance when it comes to navigating the NASCAR community is Brendan Gaughan, the former NASCAR Cup Series driver who made 17 of his 67 career series starts with Beard Motorsports. Additionally, Beard Motorsports continues to be powered by ECR Engines – a partnership that has existed since the team’s inception in 2017.


Linda Beard, Owner of the No. 62 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro for Beard Motorsports:


This weekend’s race at Atlanta is a first for the Beard family and Beard Motorsports as Daytona and Talladega have historically been the only tracks featured on the No. 62 car’s yearly schedule. What made you decide to run at Atlanta?

“Racing was important to my husband – something he enjoyed and loved. And it’s something we now enjoy because of him. As a family, we enjoy being at the racetrack, competing and having fun. The current car has given us the chance to do some different things and we are doing that because you will see us at a few tracks this season where we have not raced before. This weekend, though, it really made sense for our team, especially since Atlanta was reconfigured a couple of years ago and has the kind of racing you see at Daytona and Talladega. We feel like what we have and the power we get from ECR Engines, we are set up really well for the weekend.”


How do you feel working with two sponsors that are also Woman-Owned?

“We are thrilled to have Bennett Transportation and Logistics on our car again. Lynette (Mathis, vice president of the Bennett Family of Companies), her family and team are wonderful people and we feel they are very similar to our family. They are family owned and are just as driven as our family owned company, Beard Oil Distributing, which is also women-owned and certified by my daughter.  This car in Atlanta will be a powerhouse of successful women, and for that I am proud. I hope young girls can see that with hard work comes success and you also can be here on America’s great stage.”


Did you ever envision this evolution of the Beard Motorsports team?

“I did not. When Mark (Beard Sr.) started doing this, I would look at myself down on the grid with all of those people and think, ‘Is this really happening?’ It didn’t bother him at all. He was confident about the whole thing. I’m still in awe and so thrilled to be at the track and racing at this level. And that’s what happens every time I go on the grid and do this. Our whole family is just very thankful to be here and have this experience.”


Austin Hill, Driver of the No. 62 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro:


This will be your first time in a Cup Series car at your home track. How do you anticipate you’ll feel when you get into that Cup Series car at home? And what are your expectations for the race?

“It’s a really cool opportunity to show up at my home track and compete in the top series of NASCAR. It’s special to be able to race against the best in the Cup Series, but especially at home. My expectation for Sunday is a little less than my expectation for the Xfinity side, where I expect nothing short of winning. On the Cup side, the goal is to race our way forward from wherever we start, make all the laps, contend, and be there at the end. If we can get inside the top-20 and get experience to see how Cup drivers race, it will go a long way. We struggled a little bit at Talladega with not getting right in the front or middle of the pack to race with others and see how the car reacts in comparison to the Xfinity car.”


“At the end of the Cup race, if we have competed, got inside the top-20, and been in contention, whatever happens at the end of the race happens. It’s a superspeedway-style race, so anything can happen when you get close to the checkered flag. Even if we run really well, get into the front half of the field, and end up wrecked at the end, I’m not going to be disappointed, simply because we showed speed and that we could run up front. I would be more disappointed if we ran in the back all day and finished the race but didn’t really get anything out of it. I’m trying to get as much experience as I can.”


Bennett Transportation and Logistics is back on the car for Atlanta, and it’s the company’s home track, as well. What will it mean to put on a good race?

“Doing both races this weekend at Atlanta with Bennett Transportation and Logistics is really cool, especially with their headquarters being 15-20 minutes away from the track in McDonough. Winning earlier this year at Atlanta in the Xfinity Series was huge for the company and myself, as well, with it being my home track, so hopefully a strong run on Saturday plays into Sunday and we can do well for them the entire weekend. Bennett will have a lot of folks at the track to support us, so we will do our best to put on a good showing for them.”


You’ve had experience on the tracks that the No. 62 team will visit in the next four months. How does that impact your approach? What can you take away from those experiences?

“There are tendencies that you can take away from the Xfinity car and transfer to the Cup car, but they drive completely different, so I’m not sure how much you can actually take away from a driving perspective. The thing you can take away, though, is the characteristics of the track. I have competed at all of the tracks that we are going to in the next few months with the No. 62 Beard Motorsports team, so I have experience on the actual surface. For instance, knowing where certain bumps are on the track, if it’s good to wrap the white line or is it better to run the top, what the track does if it’s cold or hot out. Just knowing the tendencies of the track itself can play a factor and help us.”




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