Beard Motorsports is back for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season and will be increasing its presence in the NASCAR garage with an expanded schedule. It all begins this Sunday’s 65th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The Beard Motorsports team is aiming to make its sixth start in The Great American Race and will be doing so with a new face behind the wheel of the No. 62 Chevrolet in driver Austin Hill.
● With a Chevrolet Camaro powered by an ECR-built engine, Beard Motorsports is accustomed to racing at the front, proven by its recent performances that include a top-five finish in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona last August with former driver Noah Gragson. Prior to 2022, Beard boasted a pair of top-10 finishes during the 2020 season at the hands of former driver Brendan Gaughan. With Gaughan behind the wheel, the Beard team finished seventh in the Daytona 500 in February and eighth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in August.
● Beard’s Daytona 500 campaign will be boosted by a partnership with Bennett Family of Companies. The Bennett Transportation and Logistics brand will adorn the No. 62 Chevrolet. Headquartered in McDonough, Georgia, Bennett Family of Companies provides logistics and transportation services for companies across American. Bennett 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.
● Honoring the passion and desire of the late Mark Beard Sr., the founder of Beard Motorsports, is what drives the team. Linda Beard sits atop the organization as the owner with strong support from daughter Amie and son Mark Jr., as well as crew chief Darren Shaw and Gaughan who, upon retiring from racing at the end of 2020, made the transition from driver to vice president of competition for the team. Historically, the No. 62 Beard Chevrolet has only run the races at Daytona and its sister track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. This season, Beard will expand that schedule with appearances at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval in October, as well as the August race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, which will serve as a homecoming for the Michigan-based Beard family and Beard Oil Distributing Company.
● Hill may be new to the No. 62 Beard Motorsports team but he arrives at Daytona having made one start in NASCAR’s top touring series. The native of Winston, Georgia, made his NASCAR Cup Series debut last season at Michigan driving the No. 33 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing (RCR). He finished a respectable 18th after starting the race 31st. In addition to his previous Cup Series experience, Hill goes into Daytona knowing what it takes to be successful at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Driving for RCR in 2022, he raced his way to a win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opening race at Daytona. Hill led a total of 23 laps en route to the victory. It was one of two wins he scored in the series last season – the other coming at Atlanta Motor Speedway in July.
● While Hill will be competing in the NASCAR Cup Series on a limited basis in 2023, he will be competing fulltime in the Xfinity Series, where he aims to race for a series championship with RCR. The 2022 NASCAR season was his first racing fulltime in the Xfinity Series. In addition to two wins, Hill scored 11 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s and finished the year sixth in the driver standings. Before joining the Xfinity Series fulltime in 2022, Hill competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He was a fulltime competitor in the series from 2018 to 2021 but made his first start in the Truck Series at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in 2014 at the tender age of 20. The now 28-year-old scored his first Truck Series win in 2019 in the season-opening race at Daytona – an event in which he started 10th and led 39 of the 111 laps run. Hill has made at least one start in the series for nine seasons and has 121 starts in all, netting eight wins, 27 top-fives and 54 top-10s.
● Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is unlike any other NASCAR Cup Series race. Before drivers compete in Thursday’s Duel qualifying event, they race the clock in single-lap qualifying Wednesday night, during which the two fastest cars are locked into the Daytona 500 field while the rest field is set by the results of the Duel. Drivers in odd-numbered qualifying positions race in the first Duel, and those in even-numbered qualifying positions race in the second Duel. Only 40 spots are available in the Daytona 500 and, for drivers like Hill, earning one of those coveted spots in the Daytona 500 comes one of two ways – by being one of the two fastest independent teams in single-car qualifying, or by racing his way into the Daytona 500 by way of the Duel. There are only four open spots in the Daytona 500 for independent teams, with the chartered NASCAR teams guaranteed one of the other 36 positions, as they are for each race on the 2023 schedule. Hill obviously wants to outperform 39 other drivers but, more specifically, any driver racing for the other independent teams looking to make the Daytona 500.