Austin Hill survived a weird night of racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to score his third NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory of the season. Hill, piloting the No. 16 Toyota for Hattori Racing, traded drivers Ross Chastain and Brett Moffitt for the lead all evening long, leading 29 of the 134 laps.
“This is the hardest one I’ve had to win. We were going to stay out that last caution and we stayed out and everybody else pitted. We decided we needed to pit or we were going to be screwed. We came down pit road, restarted at the tailend of the longest line and it stayed green,” said Hill. “I had to drive all the way through the field and this truck was unbelievable. Scott (Zipadelli, crew chief) and the boys gave me a heck of a piece tonight. We wouldn’t have won this race with them. We’re two-for-two with this truck so we’re going to try to go three-for-three with it. Can’t thank all the boys enough.”
Ross Chastain finished the night 2.116 seconds behind race-winner Austin Hill and led the most laps of the evening. The driver of the No. 45 CarShield Chevrolet won both stages of the race and will leave the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his eighth top five and 16th top 10 finish.
Hill heads into the next round of the playoffs and the next race at Talladega Superspeedway with six top five and 11 top 10 finishes. The Georgia native chasing the series championship holds an average finish of 12.8.
“It means a lot. Coming into tonight, our number one goal was getting stage points and we did that, we got stage points in stage one and stage two. Got through that and after the second stage and we knew that some of the Playoff drivers had some issues, my only concern was going for the win,” Hill said later. “That’s all I really cared about. I didn’t think we were going to be able to catch them under green, but we did. It’s even more of a statement win because we had a little bit of an issue during practice and lost our truck chief. I know he was up watching us in the stands, but this is so special.”
Christian Eckes rounded out the top three finishers at Las Vegas. Eckes, piloting the No. 51 SiriusXM Toyota, started on the pole and led four circuits in his sixth career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start.
Eckes leaves the track with two top five and three top 10 finishes this season.
Sheldon Creed and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top five.
Taking home top 10 finishes included Brennan Poole, Brett Moffitt, Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton and Dylan Lupton.
Several Gander Outdoors Truck Series contenders had problems with their engines throughout the night that impacted their chances at winning this year’s championship. The issues impacted Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen.
The No. 52 team of Stewart Friesen quickly diagnosed their engine issue and went on to a 19th-place finish. Sauter, Crafton and Enfinger weren’t as lucky as they finished 29th, 30th and 31st on the leaderboard.
Playoff driver Tyler Ankrum reported a cylinder down with around 40 laps to go. The driver of the No. 17 B/X Custom Designs Toyota finished 11th to squeak into the next round of the playoffs.
Advancing into the Round of 6 will be reigning series champion Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain, Austin Hill, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum. Grant Enfinger and Johnny Sauter were eliminated from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs.
The next race for the series will be at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, October 12th. The Sugarland Shines 250 will air live on FS1 and MRN Radio at 1:30 p.m. ET.