Hill Widens Points Advantage with Top-Five at Daytona Road Course

Austin Hill posted his sixth top-five finish of the season in Sunday’s inaugural road course race at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. The driver of the No. 16 Fukishima Toyota / Tochigi Toyota, TRD Toyota Tundra extended his point lead with a fifth-place finish and scored the second-most points of any driver in the field. With four races remaining in the regular season, Hill paces the Gander Trucks point standings by 54 markers.
Hill started the 46-lap event from the fourth position and barreled off into Turn 1 without the aid of practice or qualifying. As the competitors acclimated themselves to the 3.56-mile course, Hill kept position in the top five through the majority of Stage 1. He reclaimed the fourth position on lap eight and earned seven points at the end of the opening stage on lap 12. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli gave Hill four tires and fuel under the stage caution as Hill said his Toyota Tundra was close, but “a little snug on the right-handers.”
As the field split on pit strategy, Hill lined up 12th for the restart on lap 15. He quickly disposed of several competitors to work his way to fifth by lap 21 and inherited the second position on lap 23 as other trucks pitted on alternate strategies. As the leader slowed on the final lap of Stage 2, Hill nearly grabbed his second stage win of the year, but ran second on lap 25 and collected nine points. Zipadelli and company called Hill to pit road for another set of fresh tires and fuel under caution, and returned the No. 16 to the track in 12th position for the lap 28 restart.
Hill found himself in a familiar position restarting outside the top 10, but quickly advanced to seventh by the time a caution flew on lap 33. He returned to pit road under the caution for another set of fresh tires for the final stint to the finish and restarted 10th. The lap 35 restart produced chaotic moments and temporarily delayed his progress through the field, but Hill managed to advance to sixth by a lap 39 caution. A wild restart on lap 42 created more physical racing and knocked Hill back to ninth, but the driver of the No. 16 had a chance at redemption with an overtime restart. Hill restarted in ninth and muscled his way forward on a two-lap sprint to the finish, which included a last-lap pass for the fifth position, and his second-straight top-five effort on a road course.
Austin Hill Quote:
“It was a really tough race today. We were fighting the heat and the elements of this race track. Very easy to lock rear brakes up and have some wheel chatter getting into entry of the corners. Whoever could get their braking down straight before they ever entered the corner, that was the guy that was the one to beat. It took me the first full stage to kind of figure out how I wanted to position my truck on entry in each corner. That way I could keep the rears up under me and have a good turn into the corner. It seemed like I kept getting better and better at doing that….Passing was actually really tough even though this track is a big race track. It was very, very tough to pass in the infield. You really have to set your truck up off of turn six to outbrake them down into the backstretch bus stop. That’s really where our best corner was all day – was getting through that bus stop. We could get through there on entry to center way faster than anyone else and still be able to carry the momentum up off of that corner, but we just had some moments where track position hurt us. We felt like we had a Tundra that could win today. We just kept getting put in predicaments where we couldn’t just quite get up front and race those guys.”