Austin Hill Charlotte Motor Speedway Race Recap
Austin Hill extended his point lead on Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway by posting a ninth-place finish in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series’ return to racing. Hill led 26 laps and collected 10 stage points to pad his cushion in the championship standings to 17 markers after three events.
A random draw based on owners’ points awarded Hill and the United Rentals team the fifth-place starting position to begin the evening. Hill rocketed out of the gate with a simply stunning charge to take the lead on the first lap in Turn 3 and led the opening 19 circuits. A loose handle on the patriotic United Rentals Toyota Tundra kept him from earning a stage win, but he managed to collect nine points by running second at the end of Stage 1 on lap 30. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli brought Hill to pit road under the stage caution for the first of three stops on the night for four tires, fuel, and adjustments to add security to the balance.
Hill restarted fourth in Stage 2, but the track conditions swung the No. 16 farther to the loose side during the second 30-lap stint. Despite wrestling with a lack of rear grip, Hill held a position inside the top 10 and garnered one point in 10th at the Stage 2 break on lap 60. The HRE team serviced Hill for four tires, fuel, and adjustments under the caution, and ripped off an exceptional pit stop to net him three positions. On the ensuing lap 69 restart, Hill put on a show, making a charge from seventh to second on the first lap under green.
The final 54 laps of the event were littered with four caution flags and jumbled the running order with a topsy-turvy pit sequence. Zipadelli brought Hill to pit road for the final time under the lap 97 caution period to play “offense” with the freshest tires over the final 34-lap stretch to the end. He restarted 24th on lap 101, entered the top 15 by lap 108, and broke into the top 10 on lap 119. Hill was tenacious in his battle through traffic in the closing stages and took the checkered flag in ninth. He scored 38 total points, fourth-most of any driver, and notched his third straight top-10 to begin the season for the first time in his career.
Austin Hill Quote:
“Running the Xfinity Series race last night, I got to see first hand how much different it is – being there with no fans, just your guys and the guys that come to the racetrack that make the racecars go are the really the only ones there. It was definitely really weird being inside the infield and seeing the stands and not seeing all the fans there. Hopefully, that can change pretty soon. Once I got strapped in, it was business as usual. I tried to keep all of that off my mind and just focus on what’s in front of me and that was to try to win the race. We really had a really good United Rentals Toyota Tundra tonight. We fired off there from the fifth position, and took the lead on lap one. We led for a little while. As the run went on, we got a little free there. The truck got looser and looser – me and Scott (Zipadelli, crew chief), we tried to keep up with adjustments. Ultimately, we got the truck a lot better. There at the end, we ended up pitting off sequence. We pitted with Kyle (Busch). Kyle was able to get up there and finish second, and I just could not get through lap traffic like he could. I was really loose in lap traffic. A lot looser when I had the clean air. That was kind of the difference maker in trying to get back up there inside the top-five.”
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