Friday, Sep 22

Beard Motorsports: Austin Hill Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona Advance

Notes of Interest

Beard Motorsports is back in action this weekend with the running of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. It is the fourth start of the season for the No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro, which has made appearances earlier this season at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and, most recently, at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. NASCAR Xfinity Series championship-contending driver Austin Hill will be back behind the wheel for Beard Motorsports this weekend.  


Multiples of five headline the weekend for the combination of Beard Motorsports and Hill. When the 29-year-old driver takes the green-flag for Saturday night’s race, it will be his fifth career start in NASCAR Cup Series competition while it will mark the 25th start for Beard Motorsports. Beard Motorsports made its Cup Series debut in 2017 and, up until the 2023 NASCAR season, competed exclusively at the big tracks of Daytona and Talladega. Races at Atlanta and Michigan were new to the Beard schedule this season, and the team will wrap up its 2023 campaign with another first by competing in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway road course in October.


United Rentals partners with Beard Motorsports for this weekend’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. It is the first of two races at which the United Rentals colors will adorn the hood of the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet. With an integrated network of 1,487 rental locations in North America, 14 in Europe, 23 in Australia and 19 in New Zealand, United Rentals, Inc., is the largest equipment rental company in the world. Founded in 1997 the company operates in 49 states and every Canadian province within North America. The company’s approximately 25,750 employees serve construction and industrial customers, utilities, municipalities, homeowners and other customers. United Rentals will be the primary sponsor for Beard’s last scheduled race of the 2023 season at Charlotte.


The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will be Hill’s fifth Cup Series start but his first in the Cup Series at Daytona. The Beard family fielded the No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro with Hill there during Speedweek in February with plans to race in the season-opening Daytona 500. The team was poised to advance to the starting field for the Daytona 500 when the No. 62 Chevrolet was caught up in a multicar accident during the closing laps of its qualifying race. While Hill is technically a Daytona rookie in Cup Series competition, his skill on the superspeedways is anything but novice-like. Driving for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the Winston, Georgia, native has a total of six wins – two of which have been scored at Daytona and another two at Atlanta, which now features the same superspeedway-style racing exercised at Daytona and Talladega.  


It’s appropriate that Beard Motorsports’ 25th start as a Cup Series team takes place at Daytona – the place where the team’s NASCAR Cup Series journey began in 2017, when it started 39th in the Daytona 500 with former driver-turned vice president of racing operations, Brendan Gaughan. The Las Vegas native ran a patient race that day, scoring an 11th-place result in the Great American Race. The No. 62 Beard Chevrolet has been a part of the starting field for 10 races on Daytona’s the 2.5-mile oval since 2017, and one in the road-course race that took place there in 2020. In those 10 starts on the oval, the No. 62 team has one top-five and four top-10 finishes.


The No. 62 Beard team operates as a family owned and run team that started out as a passion project for the late Mark Beard Sr. Since his passing in early 2021, the team has operated under the guidance of family matriarch Linda Beard. The team is managed and nourished by daughter Amie Beard, who manages the day-to-day operations, and son Mark Jr., who provides leadership and support. Darren Shaw continues to oversee car and team preparations in the role of crew chief while the team continues to leverage the power of ECR engines. Beard Motorsports and its family owned company, Beard Oil Distributing – a certified women-owned business – both operating and thriving in male-dominated industries. 


Austin Hill, Driver of the No. 62 United Rentals Chevrolet Camaro:

The No. 62 team didn’t make this year’s Daytona 500, but you went on to win the Xfinity Series race the day before to make it two in a row for you in the season-opening race. What kind of motivation does it provide for this weekend’s race at Daytona?

“Winning at Daytona twice in the Xfinity car obviously gives you a lot of confidence heading into this weekend. It really burned that I wasn’t able to be in the Daytona 500 because I believe that I can compete with all of the Cup guys. I really think I can go up there and race for a win. And that doesn’t come from a place of being cocky or anything. I just have that confidence in myself. As confident as I am on the superspeedway tracks, I know it’s harder to get a win at this level. There are a lot of people that are really good at what they do and never get a win on these types of tracks. But I go into the race trying for the win and think I can compete but understand that things get more challenging at this level.”


How much of what you did during the superspeedway race at Talladega in the No. 62 Chevrolet will you be able to lean on for this weekend’s race at Daytona?

“Having competed in a superspeedway race already with the Beard Motorsports team, we have learned that track position is extremely important. We will have to do all we can to play the track-position game and get ourselves in a position up front. Cup cars get two-by-two easily, but it’s hard to create a third lane. With the cars being really tight together, the Cup cars race a lot differently than the Xfinity cars. Anything that we can do as a team to jump ahead on track position will be key. Say we are running 20th and we feel like we have a car capable of running up front, is there a chance of taking fuel only or two tires so we can gain track position? This is one of the biggest things that I will want to lean on with Darren (Shaw, crew chief), knowing when we can make some risk-versus-reward-type moves.”


Does the August race at Daytona have a different feel than the race in February?

“Yes, because with it being hotter outside, the track will be slicker. Handling comes into effect a little more, which is what we noticed last year in the Xfinity Series car. So I am expecting the same with the Cup car this weekend. You’re going to have to have a balance of being trimmed out with raw speed and having drivability in your car to where, if you need to make big moves, you can.”




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