Austin Hill scored his ninth top-10 finish of the season with a ninth-place run in his debut at Nashville Superspeedway (NSS) on Friday night. The driver of the No. 16 JBL Toyota Tundra scored 37 points, which was tied for the third-most of all drivers in the field and allowed him to close the gap on the points leader by 10 markers.
The Georgian stopped the clock with the third-quickest lap in qualifying and began the first NASCAR Camping World Trucks event at NSS in a decade from the inside of row two. Hill immediately pushed fellow Toyota driver Derek Kraus to the lead at the green flag and comfortably settled into the runner up position. The entirety of Stage 1 ran clean and green for 45 laps as Hill stalked Kraus for the race lead. At lap 45, Hill collected nine points by running second despite dealing with a significant tire chatter in the middle of NSS’ concrete corners.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli gave Hill a track bar adjustment under the first stage caution to compliment four fresh tires and fuel. Hill chose to restart third on lap 54 and made an aggressive move to reclaim the runner-up position. The balance of the JBL Tundra progressively improved throughout the 25-lap run as Hill held the fourth position until a caution on lap 78. Zipadelli called Hill to pit road as the field split tire strategies under the yellow. Hill restarted 13th on lap 84, but was forced to combat dirty air and ultimately finished Stage 2 in 14th on lap 95.
Hill made his final trip to pit road under the Stage 2 caution for four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 18th on lap 104 and took advantage of two subsequent restarts to advance up the leaderboard. On the race’s final restart on lap 118, Hill went from 16th to 12th on the initial start and executed a shocking four-wide move to grab ninth on lap 119. He held position inside the top 10 for the balance of the event to collect a ninth-place finish in his debut at NSS.
Austin Hill Quote:
“Track position was huge tonight. We got shuffled back pretty deep in the field so to come back to finish ninth with our JBL Toyota Tundra was a good recovery. We had some good speed in our Tundra but we fought a tire chatter most of the night no matter where we ran on the racetrack. It was a challenge to pass tonight, so restarts were huge. You really had to make the most of each restart to grab as many spots as you can. We’ll go to Pocono next week and hopefully be able to go for the win there.”