Beard Motorsports: Austin Hill Michigan Advance

Notes of Interest

Driver Austin Hill will make his third NASCAR Cup Series start of the 2023 season and the fourth of his career in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It will be a full-circle moment for the driver of the No. 62 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet Camaro, who made his Cup Series debut last season at Michigan driving the No. 33 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing (RCR). He raced his way to an 18th-place finish after starting 31st.


A series of firsts have headlined the 2023 NASCAR season for Beard Motorsports and that continues this weekend when, for the first time ever, the team will be competing on what is considered the home track for the Beard family. As Michigan natives, the Beard family calls Mount Pleasant home, a cozy town located in the central part of the state. Linda Beard sits at the helm for Beard Motorsports and its No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro team while daughter Amie takes the lead on managing the team and business that she shares with her brother Mark Beard Jr., who operates Beard Oil Distributing, a third-generation family business that is also based in Mount Pleasant.


While Sunday’s race at Michigan will be the team’s first at the 2-mile oval, it is not the team’s first attempt to field a car in the Irish Hills. The late Mark Beard Sr., founded Beard Motorsports and served as the lead consultant to Beard Oil Distributing prior to his passing in 2021. Before he took his seat at the table as a NASCAR Cup Series team owner, however, Beard enjoyed a “side hustle” as a racecar driver that started at the age of 8 in go karts. His racing career included two starts in what is now referred to as the NASCAR Xfinity Series – the 1982 Goody’s 300 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the 1986 Winn-Dixie 300 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Beard attempted to qualify for the Xfinity Series races at Michigan in both 1994 and 1995 but ultimately was unable to make the starting field for either race. The 1995 event would be his final entry into a NASCAR race.


Sunday’s race at Michigan will be the third of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season for the combination of Hill and Beard Motorsports. The Beard family fielded the No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro with Hill during Speedweek at Daytona 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. Since Daytona, Hill has piloted the No. 62 Beard Chevrolet in races at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 23 and Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 6. The Winston, Georgia, native finished 24th at Talladega and was scored with a 37th-place finish at Atlanta after getting caught up in an accident not of his own making. 


The Bennett Family of Companies is back with the No. 62 Beard Motorsports team for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 with the 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. 


Three races make up the remaining 2023 NASCAR Cup Series campaign for the No. 62 Beard Motorsports team following Sunday’s race at Michigan. The next event on the schedule is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona on Aug. 26, followed by the YellaWood 500 at Talladega on Oct. 1, and the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte on Oct. 8.  


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

Daytona and Talladega have historically been the tracks that make up the racing campaign for Beard Motorsports. This year, you have raced at Atlanta and you will run the road course at Charlotte, in addition to this weekend’s race at Michigan. What made you decide to expand the schedule?

“It was really a combination of many things that made it possible. The current car definitely helps a lot because there is more versatility to it. When Austin Hill and his team came to us last year with the idea to race for us and add to the schedule, it was just a great opportunity to see how far we could take this. We have some great partners on board with us this season and that’s really kind of taken this racing program to a level we didn’t expect. When Mark (Beard Sr.) was in charge, I didn’t worry about any of it because I knew he would make the decisions. It’s definitely different now, doing that, and it makes it a little bit harder. I have a lot of help and support from my daughter Amie and son Mark Jr., but doing this definitely makes the actual racing more rewarding, and you end up wanting to do more.”


What does it mean to you to be racing at home in Michigan?

“Well the travel will be a lot better, for sure! I think it is going to be exciting for us – we have so many friends and family there. Our business is there. The whole NASCAR thing can still feel a little overwhelming, and even intimidating sometimes, so being so close to home and racing there, I think, gives us a better opportunity to enjoy the day and share it with our guests.”


How will it feel to see the No. 62 car out on the track at Michigan?

“I think it could be a little emotional for us. My husband gave us this love of racing. The whole reason we decided to stay the course and keep racing is so we could carry on what he had started, to see what we could do with it. I think deep down it felt like the right thing to do. Every time we see that No. 62 on the track, it’s like having a piece of him there with us. Mark always wanted to run a race at this level at Michigan and he came close. Doing it now is going to be very special.”


Will you have more than the usual number of people at the track this weekend, and will you be doing anything special?

“We have always been known to buck trends and do things our way. That’s what Brendan (Gaughan) has always said and he’s right. But it will definitely be a celebration for our family and for our employees with Beard Oil to see our car on the track. We are going to be hosting a few more people than we normally do, but we also want our employees and customers to be a part of this. We have a number of them coming to the race and our plan is to show them around, let them tour the garage, see the car – all the things that go into the race weekend – and Michigan gives us the opportunity to do this.”


How do you think your guests who have never been to a race will feel after their first race?

“They will become racers for life! Every time we bring guests and clients to the racetrack, they are excited to be there and they gain a new perspective of what it takes to be at this level of racing. I find you can tell people about it all you want but, until they see it, feel the rumble of the engines and become a part of it, they really have no idea what it is like. It is then that they have become not only fans of the mighty 62, but of racing in general, and we love that!”


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

This is the first track where you’re arriving with previous Cup Series experience. You ran all of the laps and finished 18th at Michigan last season. How much confidence does it give you going into this weekend’s race?

“Having already run laps in a Cup car at Michigan definitely helps the situation because it allows me to have a better idea of what to expect before hitting the track. The biggest thing I fought last year was the air. The way that the Cup cars work in the air was huge. If you crossed the wake of another car wrong, you would get super tight, have to get out of the throttle, get passed by a couple of guys, and then get your momentum back up. Keeping your momentum up is going to be big throughout the race. Any time you can get to someone’s right rear and pass them on the outside, it’s going to be more beneficial than making a pass on the bottom. When compared to the Xfinity cars, Cup cars seem to stay a little more packed up. Last year, especially when you go outside the top-10 or 15, it felt like we were running really close together and the draft came into play. You have to be smart with knowing when to pull out of line, knowing when not to, and knowing when to push your lane. When someone makes a bad decision to turn left and run the bottom, if you can fill the outside lane, it helps you gain that position. I’m excited to go back and run there a second time to see if we can improve on the finish.”


How much of what you learned last year will you be able to lean on for this year’s race at Michigan?

“The biggest thing I can lean on is how to work the air better. In my opinion, that’s the biggest key when you go there in a Cup car, especially. With the way that the NextGen car is built with the diffuser, the front end up in the air and the rear down, when someone crosses your wake the wrong way or when you cross someone’s wake the wrong way, it really upsets your car. Being able to know how to maneuver the air, almost like superspeedway-style, and keep clean air on the nose is what I’m going to lean on the most from last year and hopefully apply to this year’s race.”