Gander Outdoors Truck Series News (5892)

Gander Outdoors Truck Series News

Austin Hill broke through for his first-career NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series (NGOTS) victory in electrifying fashion at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on Friday night in his first start with Hattori Racing Enterprises (HRE). Hill held off frantic challenges for the lead, narrowly escaped a multi-truck wreck, and survived two overtime restarts to tally the biggest victory of his racing career in his 52nd-career NGOTS start.
 
The No. 16 Chiba Toyopet team led by Scott Zipadelli earned the third-consecutive victory for HRE, dating back to last season at ISM Raceway, and the first for team owner Shige Hattori at “The World Center of Racing”.
 
Hill’s debut with HRE began with a 10th-place qualifying effort, which allowed him to race near the front of the lead draft for the opening stage. The Winston, GA native was patient and precise in the draft, and maintained a top-five position in the lead group during Stage 1. Coming to the stage break on lap 20, Hill made a bold, three-wide move to take second spot and collected nine points. Zipadelli brought Hill to pit road under the caution for two tires and fuel. Despite quick pit work, Hill lost track position due to varying strategies by his competitors and finished 13th at the end of stage two on lap 40.
 
Zipadelli played the strategy card at the beginning of the final stage by giving Hill left side tires and fuel under the lap 41 caution, which netted him the second position. Hill fought for the race lead while a multi-truck accident ensued in his rear-view mirror on lap 54. Hill pitted for the final time under the caution for fuel only and immediately began to conserve fuel.
 
From the lap 63 restart, Hill managed the lead and worked the side draft to near perfection at the front of the pack to stay in the top three positions while conserving fuel. After narrowly escaping another multi-truck wreck on lap 100, Hill regained the lead and controlled the final two restarts in overtime. Hill turned away two furious bids for the lead on the last restart to capture his first-career win, and the first win of 2019 for the defending series champions.
 
Austin Hill Quote:
 
“I never would have thought in a million years I’d win at Daytona. We’ve had some success at Daytona before, but just didn’t have the finishes we were looking for there at the end. We’d have something happen and to be able to come on board with Hattori Racing and start off the season like this, I think there’s going to be a lot of good things to come for us.”
 
“I didn’t have any confidence (in saving fuel) to be honest with you. We pitted really early and we already knew it was going to be close and then when we went overtime, I was so scared. I just knew I was going to run out coming off of four and not make it to the line. So much stuff was going through my head, but hey, we’re here in victory lane.”

HRE PR

Christian Eckes made his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start at Daytona, earning the pole position in the No. 51 SiriusXM Toyota Tundra and running within the top-10 for much of the event before being collected in a wreck in the final stage. Crew chief Rudy Fugle and the 51 team made a valiant attempt to repair the damage, but after restarting the race, the 51 was unable to continue. This was Eckes' first pole in five starts in the NGOTS with a lap of 49.287 seconds, 182.604 mph.
 
Stage One Recap:
  • For the second year in a row, a KBM Toyota Tundra sat on the pole for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona. Last year veteran driver David Gilliland was behind this wheel, and this year 18-year-old Eckes earned the pole in just his fifth NGOTS start.
  • Eckes led the first lap, but fell back to third, where he remained for the rest of the stage. At the end of stage one, crew chief Rudy Fugle brought him to pit road for two left-side tires and fuel.
Stage Two Recap:
  • Eckes started the next 20-lap stage in 11th and under a caution on lap 28, came to pit road for two right-side tires, and then returned to top-off fuel and double check lug nuts. At the end of the second stage the teenager was scored in the 17th position.
Stage Three Recap:
  • After the second stage, on lap 43, Eckes pitted for fuel only, but was penalized after his fuel handler was unable to remove the gas can before his SiriusXM Tundra exited the pit box. Due to the penalty, he was required to restart the race at the tail end of the field, miring him in traffic. He quickly made his way back into the top 10, but on lap 57, the No. 51 was collected in a multi-truck accident.
  • Fugle and the No. 51 team attempted to repair the damage and Eckes was able to restart the race, but soon the damage proved too much, and he was unable to continue, ending his night on lap 61.

KBM PR

Eighteen-year-old Todd Gilliland made his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start at Daytona International Speedway, starting in third and remaining within the top-10 for most of the night before accidental contact with teammate Harrison Burton ended his evening early, resulting in a 19th-place finish in the No. 4 JBL Audio Toyota Tundra.
 
Stage One Recap:
  • After starting from third, Gilliland, fighting a tight handling condition, dropped back in the pack and finished the first stage in the 10th position. Following the first stage, he visited pit road and crew chief Marcus Richmond for fuel and adjustments.
Stage Two Recap:
  • Gilliland began the second stage in the fifth position. The eighteen-year-old reported that his JBL Audio Toyota Tundra was much better and he was leading coming to the stage end, but was shuffled back on the final lap and was in the eighth position at the end of the second 20-lap stage. He pitted on lap 45 for fuel and two right-side tires.
Stage Three Recap:
  • As the final 60-lap stage began, Gilliland reported that his Tundra was much better and the handling was mainly neutral.
  • He began the final stage in the fourth position, but was shuffled back to midpack.
  • After contact with another truck in the infamous "Big One," on lap 55, Gilliland sustained slight damage to the right side of his vehicle, requiring a pit stop to attempt to clear the tires. After another pit stop on lap 80, Gilliland reported an issue with his machine, which turned out to be a loose left rear wheel.
  • With 10 laps remaining in the scheduled distance, Gilliland made contact with Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Harrison Burton in an effort to provide a push to the front, and both drivers lost control. The No. 4 sustained damage, ending his night. 
KBM PR
Harrison Burton had an eventful start to his first full-time campaign in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. After posting the eighth fastest time early in the opening practice session at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday afternoon, Burton and the No. 18 Safelite team experienced a motor failure late in the session and were forced to put in the backup motor. Per the rule book, that meant even though they posted the fourth fastest time in Friday afternoon's qualifying session, they were forced to start at the back of the field for Friday night's season opening NextEra Energy 250.
 
Burton's misfortunes continued during the race when he experienced a flat tire early in the race and went a lap down. After receiving the Lucky Dog and getting back on the lead lap, he experienced a pit-road penalty and lost another lap, but received another Lucky Dog and returned back to the lead lap once again. It appeared as though the resiliency of the Safelite team was going to pay off as the talented youngster was running inside the top five with just over 10 laps to go as he waited to make his move to bring home the victory.
 
With his KBM teammate Todd Gilliland behind him, Burton had a strong run and maneuvered to the high side of the track attempting to make his way into the top three, but Gilliland's push from behind came at the wrong angle and resulted in the two trucks caroming into the outside wall. The Safelite Tundra would be able to drive around the track and down pit road, but the damage was to severe to continue and the team was left with a disappointing 18th-place finish.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Burton was officially credited with starting the race from the fourth position, but went to the back of the 32-truck field for the start of the race due to the engine change. He had advanced to the 23rd position when the first caution of the race occurred on lap four.
  • Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. played the strategy card for the first time of the race when he summoned his young driver to pit road for a fuel-only stop. As Burton was exiting his pit stall, the team noticed a flat left-front tire and unfortunately the Safelite Tundra would have to return to pit road just as the field was getting ready to take the green flag to restart the race.
  • After getting fresh left-side tires, the North Carolina native returned to the track but was all by himself and shortly after would go a lap down after getting passed by all of the trucks in the draft as they approached him.
  • Fortunately, he was the only driver one lap down and would receive the lucky dog at the completion of the first stage. Burton was scored in the 28th position to end the stage. 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • When pit road opened, Hillman Jr. summoned the Safelite Tundra to pit road for four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel, a chassis adjustment and with no spots to lose the team examined the left side of the truck to check for a steering issue that their young driver was reporting.
  • Burton was scored in the 28th position when Stage Two went green on lap 26. He would slowly maneuver his way toward the front of the field during the stage, making it to the 13th position on lap 35 and had advanced to the ninth position when the stage ended on lap 40. 
Final Stage Recap: 
  • Hillman Jr. played the strategy card again, calling for a fuel-only stop between stages. Burton would return to the track scored in the third position when the Final Stage went green on lap 46.
  • The 18-year-old was scored in the second spot behind veteran driver David Gilliland when the fifth caution of the race occurred on lap 56. Burton tucked in close behind Gilliland as they hit pit road for another fuel-only stop. Misfortune struck again when both drivers were ruled by NASCAR to have advanced past the pace vehicle and were issued a one-lap penalty.
  • After serving the penalty, the No. 18 Toyota returned to the track and fortunately received another Lucky Dog when a caution occurred on lap 65.
  • When pit road opened, Burton brought the Safelite Tundra to the attention of his over-the-wall crew who administered a four-tire and fuel stop and returned their young driver to the track scored in the 15th position for the lap-67 restart.
  • When the seventh caution of the night occurred on lap 78, the second-generation driver was scored in the eighth position. After going back green, Burton found himself with Gilliland running behind him.
  • For the next 10 laps, the duo raced in the outside line of the field near the fifth-place position. With 11 laps remaining, Burton got a strong run and went to maneuver around a damaged truck in front of him that was holding up the line. As he moved to make it three-wide, Gilliland also had a strong run and attempted to give a bump to help his teammate work his way to the front of the field. Unfortunately, the bump resulted in the Safelite Tundra getting loose and shooting up the track into the outside wall. Gilliland also got collected and they would finish the race prematurely in the 18th and 19th positions, respectively. 

KBM PR

The NextEra Energy Resources 250 kicked-off the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season at Daytona International Speedway on Friday. The race had two NASCAR Overtime attempts and was later won by Austin Hill. A total of 32 drivers took the green flag and only nine of those drivers finished on the lead lap.

Austin Hill started 10th on the leaderboard and looked strong upfront all throughout the race. Hill, a 24-year old driver from the state of Georgia, led the field for the most laps of 39 on his way to his first career NASCAR National Series victory.

“I never would have thought in a million years I’d win at Daytona. We’ve had some success at Daytona before, but just didn’t have the finishes we were looking for there at the end,” said one happy Austin Hill after the race. “We’d have something happen and to be able to come on board with Hattori Racing and start off the season like this, I think there’s going to be a lot of good things to come for us.”

Driving the No. 16 Hattori Racing Toyota, the same team that Brett Moffitt raced for one season ago and ending 2018 as the Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion, Hill and his team had to think about fuel in the closing laps. The team elected to stay out while holding the lead and go for the win – picking up right where they left off in 2018.

“I didn’t have any confidence to be honest with you. We pitted really early and we already knew it was going to be close and then when we went overtime, I was so scared,” Hill said. “I just knew I was going to run out coming off of four and not make it to the line. So much stuff was going through my head, but hey, we’re here in victory lane.”

Hill sat second in stage one and finished 13th in stage two.

Grant Enfinger finished behind race winner Austin Hill in the second spot. Enfinger started fifth in his No. 98 Ford and went back and fourth throughout the field all night long. 

Enfinger, holding two victories in the series through 61 career starts, has 19 top five and 36 top 10 finishes.

Ross Chastain rounded out the top three finishers on Friday in his No. 45 TruNorth Chevrolet. Chastain finished stage one sitting 24th and 21st in stage two. The 26-year old driver earned his 16th career truck series top 10 finish.

Spencer Boyd and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five finishers in the season opener.

Josh Reaume, Timothy Peters, Angela Ruch, Austin Wayne Self and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top 10.

Several key drivers got caught up in race incidents all throughout the season opener. Natalie Decker was one of the victims early on when she and the No. 17 of David Gilliland were involved in the opening yellow flag on lap two. The next yellow flag for an on-track incident, on lap 27 just after the end of stage one, involved a trio of trucks including Chris Fontaine, Ray Ciccarelli and Tyler Dippel in turn three.

The action calmed until lap 53, just after the end of stage two, when 12 trucks tangled in turn four. The drivers involved in the fifth yellow flag of the night included Sheldon Creed, Jordan Anderson, Todd Gilliland, Gus Dean, Johnny Sauter, Austin Wayne Self, Brett Moffitt, Myatt Snider, Brennan Poole, pole sitter Christian Eckes, Stewart Friesen and Grant Enfinger. Eckes would bring out the sixth yellow of the night 10 laps later by dropping fluid on the track.

Numerous yellows came out the rest of the way involving one or two trucks at a time until two laps left on the backstrech. On lap 98 of 100, a nine-truck incident at the front of the field brought out the yellow flag that took out a number of contenders. Friesen, along with Ben Rhodes, Sheldon Creed, Gus Dean, Matt Crafton, Joe Nemechek, David Gilliland, Ross Chastain and Clay Greenfield were involved in the caution. After the field went green, on lap 105, a three car incident extended the race even further after Bobby Gerhart, Stewart Friesen and Austin Wayne Self tangled in turn two. The incident would be the final yellow of the already extended NextEra Energy Resources 250 

The next race for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 23. The Active Pest Control 200 will air live on FS1 and MRN Radio at 4:30 p.m. ET.

You could call Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 a battle of attrition, but that wouldn’t do justice to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener.

It was more like a long, full-blown war.

In a race at Daytona International Speedway that saw a record 11 cautions, a record 55 caution laps and just nine of 32 trucks running at the finish, Austin Hill took the checkered flag on the 11th lap of NASCAR overtime to win for the first time in the series—in the Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota that carried Brett Moffitt to the championship last year.

“That whole last lap, my heart was pounding,” Hill said of the run to the finish on Lap 111. “I thought there were going to get to the outside and we were going to have a drag race. But I was able to protect it.

“I can’t believe my first win came at Daytona. It’s surreal. I can’t wait to party with these guys.”

Grant Enfinger ran second, 0.278 seconds behind Hill, after surviving a 12-car pileup in Turn 4 on Lap 54. Enfinger rallied from two laps down and tried to manufacture a run on Hill through the final two corners, but Hill blocked him effectively off Turn 4 and cruised to the finish line.

“I didn’t have anybody lined up behind me coming out of Turn 4,” Enfinger said. “I wonder if it’s a full moon tonight—carnage everywhere.”

Ross Chastain ran third in his first run for Niece Motorsports. Spencer Boyd was fourth, followed by Matt Crafton, Josh Reaume, Timothy Peters, Angela Ruch and Austin Wayne Self, who's battered No. 22 Chevrolet was the last car running at the finish.

Racing in the Truck Series for the first time since 2010, and for only the second time in her career, Ruch posted her best finish in a national series event. Her eighth-place result was the second highest by a female driver in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series history, with the record belonging to Jennifer Jo Cobb (sixth at Daytona in 2011).

Ben Rhodes was leading on Lap 99, before a 10-car crash knocked him out of the race. That wreck forced overtime, and on the first attempt, Self and Bobby Gerhart crashed on the backstretch to necessitate the second attempt.

Moffitt, the reigning series champion, was a victim of the Lap 54 melee and retired in 26th place in his first event with GMS Racing.

Before the race was three laps old, second-place qualifier David Gilliland brought his No. 17 Toyota to pit road with a cut tire. On the same circuit, Gilliland’s DGR-Crosley teammate, Natalie Decker, followed onto pit road, with a cut tire and a broken oil line.

Decker’s car burst into flames, with the fire shooting from the left wheel well, and her crew pulled her from the car, ending her first start in the Truck Series.

“The tire went down, and it caught on fire when I brought it to pit road,” Decker said. “I really wanted to have a good finish, but it is what it is.”

Under caution for Decker’s issue, Bryan Dauzat pitted after having hit the Turn 1 wall in an earlier incident under green. Unable to bring his No. 28 Chevrolet to a stop, Dauzat hit jackman Billy Rock and knocked him to the pavement.

Rock was alert and awake, according to NASCAR officials, but was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

The early incidents, however, were merely a precursor for the wild action that followed.

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