In his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this season, 21-year-old driver Austin Hill brought home a 19th place finish in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
Hill and the Empire Racing team kicked off the weekend with two practice sessions where they worked on the handling of the No. 82 Ford F-150. Team general manager, Mike “Grumpy” Cheek worked closely with Hill to make changes throughout the day.
“Practice went well, the truck was just too tight so we worked to free it up during the day,” said Hill, a NASCAR Next driver and K&N Pro Series East winner. “Grumpy and the team made big strides and helped the truck a lot.”
Qualifying strategy didn’t go as expected for team, securing a 27th position starting spot, Hill would have to start at the back and work his way up through the field.
“Austin was a little tight in the middle of the turn on his first run,” explained Cheek. “So we cooled down his truck and made some adjustments for the next run. Unfortunately, he got caught up in some slow traffic on the track and we didn’t get a clean lap.”
The No. 82 Ford drove well for Hill during the race. The team got off on the pit sequence during the race and then had to fight for track position throughout the day. Hill got stuck on the outside line during the last five restarts, which is a challenge to gain track position. But, the 21-year-old driver was able to complete all 200 laps and brought home a 19th place finish.
“I felt like we could have gotten a solid 11th or 12th place finish,” said Hill. “We didn’t have any problems in the race or while pitting, and we stayed on the lead lap the entire race. There are pros and cons to this race. I do feel that we could have had a finished between 10th and 12th place, but sometimes the race unfolds and doesn’t go the way you want it. Getting off the pit sequence helped us at the start of the race but hurt us towards the end. We’re looking forward to Phoenix and getting a great finish there.”
Cheek echoed Hill’s sentiments and had praise for the young driver and his team as they look ahead.
“All-in-all it wasn't the finish we was looking for but we will take it and learn from the weekend and move on to Phoenix,” said Cheek. “Austin was spot on and drove a great race. We are blessed to have him driving our truck; he is a very talented young man. Our team is young and getting stronger every race.”
Austin Hill and Empire Racing will team up next in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the Phoenix International Raceway event on Nov. 13.
Empire Racing PR