Austin Hill scored his fourth top-five finish of the season with a fourth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The driver of the No. 16 AISIN Toyota Tundra tallied 43 points, tied for second-most among all drivers in the field and maintained the third position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings. The No. 16 team also gained ground in the owners' championship standings by advancing to third.
Hill took the green flag from the fifth position and instantaneously began to move forward. A three-wide move on the opening lap netted him the fourth position and claimed a podium position two laps later. Three cautions split up the opening stage, but Hill managed to use a lap 30 restart to his advantage and took the second position. He went on to collect nine points at the end of Stage 1 on lap 35 in the second spot.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the AISIN team gave Hill four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment to combat a tight condition during the stage caution. Alternating pit strategies played out during the caution and forced Hill to restart 11th for the lap 42 restart. Dirty air wreaked havoc on Hill’s handling as he tried to fight his way back towards the top-10. A caution on lap 61 allowed Zipadelli to reverse the pit strategy tide and brought Hill to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment. Hill restarted 18th on lap 66 and advanced to 11th by the end of Stage 2 on lap 70 (Hill would be credited with 10th position and one point in Stage 2 following post-race technical inspection).
Hill stayed on track during the stage 2 caution period and inherited the sixth position for the lap 78 restart, which proved to be the final restart of the afternoon. The Winston, Ga. native rejoined the top five on lap 105 just before a cycle of green-flag pit stops commenced. Zipadelli and company brought Hill to pit road on lap 110 and serviced him with four tires, fuel, and another chassis adjustment to assist the center turn in his Toyota Tundra. Over the final 37 circuits, Hill fought diligently to maintain his top-five position. He took the checkered flag in fifth on the racetrack, but was credited with a fourth-place finish following post-race technical inspection.
Austin Hill Quote:
“We were really good all day. Our AISIN Toyota Tundra was fast. Just track position seemed big. Our truck was just way too tight to really march our way up through the field when we pitted and got back in traffic. So trying to work through that and got back up inside the top-three or four and man, these lapped trucks. I don’t know what we can do differently, but the lapped trucks killed us today. Seemed like every time I caught them, they wanted to race me like it was the last lap or something."
“When we started out it was definitely slick, nobody really wanted to go up in it (PJ1). As the race went on, I started to go up in it and put my right sides in it. At first, it didn’t have much grip and then as we ran in it, it got better and better. I felt like there at the end of the race, our truck was working really well up there. We were still tight running in it, but we could run some really good lap times compared to the 4 (John Hunter Nemechek). It would have been nice to have a little caution to stack us back up to see if we could get something done different. All in all, great day. Good to see a Toyota Tundra in victory lane with the Toyota’s being built right here in Texas. That makes it nice, but wish we were that Tundra in victory lane instead.”