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What is Austin Hill’s Path to the NASCAR Cup Series?

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What’s Happening?

Austin Hill is the modern NASCAR definition of a late bloomer. One of the top drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Hill has yet to compete full-time in the Cup Series despite being 30 years old. Could a path open up for him to make it to the Cup Series?

  • Austin Hill is in his third full-time Xfinity Series season, following four full-time Truck Series seasons. He’s a true veteran of NASCAR’s lower National Touring Series, but his Cup Series experience has been limited to one-off appearances or part-time efforts.
  • With where Hill stands at RCR, is there a path for him to take to the Cup Series? He is fiercely loyal to the team, as evidenced by signing a multi-year contract extension in 2023.
  • Fans hope to see Hill get an opportunity to race full-time in the Cup Series. However, those opportunities are getting fewer and further between.

The Age Factor

Austin Hill took a while to get his NASCAR career going. He didn’t race full-time until 2018 when he turned 24. For some perspective, at that time, Ryan Blaney, who’s just four months older than Hill, was entering his third full-time Cup Series season with one win under his belt.

Hill eventually worked his way into the Xfinity Series, where he races today for RCR. In an era when most drivers make Cup Series debuts in their early or, at the latest, mid-20s, Hill was working his way through the ranks in his mid-late 20s.

That doesn’t mean he can’t become a full-time Cup Series driver. Josh Berry is currently in his first full-time Cup Series season and turning 34 this fall. However, it is rare for Cup Series drivers to make their full-time debuts at this age.

Either way, Hill can jump up to Cup whenever a good opportunity arises. He has enough skill and enough of a resume to do that, but where he currently races could be what holds him back.

Racing for RCR

Hill’s spot at Richard Childress Racing is an interesting one. He signed a multi-year contract extension with the team last season, and RCR has two full-time Cup Series teams with drivers signed through at least 2025.

Hill also has a driver under the same roof that he could compete with for a Cup Series ride. That driver is 19-year-old Jesse Love.

Love is the future of RCR. He’s young and has great potential, and RCR has no reason to rush him up to the Cup Series. However, that doesn’t mean Hill won’t be considered at RCR in the future.

If Hill wants to make the Cup Series in 2025, RCR must buy a third charter, which is very unlikely. Aside from that, he may be waiting until Austin Dillon or Kyle Busch move on, and that specific time frame is uncertain. At that point, will Jesse Love be ready to move up to the Cup Series?

What Hill does in the near future depends entirely on how RCR elects to use him. It’s possible he could just become an Xfinity Series lifer similar to what Justin Allgaier has done.

Ultimately, Austin Hill will probably not be a Cup Series driver in 2024. Even looking a year or two down the line, it’s tough to tell is his career projects into the Cup Series if he doesn’t switch teams.

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