Austin Hill earned a third-place finish at Kansas Speedway after another patented relentless performance. The driver of the No. 16 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra recovered from extensive repairs for significant left-side damage at the end of Stage 2 and advanced from 22nd to deliver a podium result. Hill now has a 19-point cushion on the cut line with two races remaining in Round 2 of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoffs.
Hill began the afternoon from the eighth starting position and immediately moved into the top five by lap four. Despite a free handing condition on corner exit to begin the event, the balance on the Toyota Tsusho Tundra gradually improved and allowed Hill advance to third on lap 20. He held a podium position at the end of Stage 1 on lap 30 to secure eight points and came to pit road under the caution period.
An efficient four tire stop put Hill in the race lead for a restart on lap 38 and held the top spot until lap 46. Hill continued to maintain his pace inside the top five for the balance of stage, but suffered significant damage after contact with the No. 18 truck while racing for position coming to the Stage 2 finish. While Hill earned six points in fifth place, the left-side door sustained sizable damage and forced crew chief Scott Zipadelli and company to make multiple trips down pit road for repairs.
Hill restarted the final stage in 22nd position on lap 68 and showcased the relentless attitude that has personified the No. 16 team throughout the season. With an upset aerodynamic platform and excessively loose balance, Hill advanced inside the top 15 by lap 75 and rejoined the top 10 after a round of green flag pit stops on lap 103. Zipadelli gave Hill two right side tires during the pit cycle to leapfrog several trucks and held 10th position until a late caution on lap 133. Hill took on two fresh left side tires and restarted seventh for the overtime restart on lap 138. He took full advantage of the bottom lane and charged to fifth on the initial restart, then gained two more positions to tally his eighth podium finish of the season.
Austin Hill Quote:
“The whole left side of the truck was just pancaked really bad. I had a really bad tire rub. I’m not sure if we had something dented or not, but just something I the left front had a slight vibration the rest of the race. It didn’t drive the same at all after stage two, after that incident. All of our guys just had to get to work. Had to work on it and we had to tune on it a lot to get it where we thought it was somewhat better. Then that caution coming out at the end was able to get us into the spot on that last restart to be able to go out there and just make it happen and gain some spots. Very frustrating day for us. Felt like we had a truck that could have won. Our Toyota Tsusho Tundra was good all day, it just kind of sucks when something like that happens, especially with a Toyota teammate.”