Austin Hill was in contention for his second-career superspeedway victory until a multi-truck accident relegated him to a 32nd-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway. The driver of the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra leaves the world’s fastest speedway fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner point standings with one race remaining in the second round.
Hill began the 94-lap, 250-mile event from the fifth position and quickly asserted himself as a primary player towards the front of the field. During the opening 20-lap stage, Hill exercised patience and stayed committed to the bottom lane of the 2.66-mile speedway to stay within reach of the race lead. As the bottom lane nosed ahead, Hill jumped to the outside lane to catch a stream of momentum and challenged the race leader coming to the stage checker. Hill ultimately collected nine points in the second position on lap 20.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the HRE team equipped Hill with two right side tires and fuel during the break and returned Hill to the track in ninth for the start of Stage 2 on lap 26. As several competitors took fuel only, Hill restarted ninth and was trapped on the bottom lane in the middle of the two-by-two lead draft. As the top lane created energy to move forward, Hill ran as low as 12th, but began to advance on lap 37. He capitalized on drafting help on his rear bumped to slice through traffic and earn six points in fifth position at the end of Stage 2 on lap 40.
Zipadelli and the HRE squad called Hill to pit road for fresh left side tires under the caution period and beat the field off pit road with their efficient pit stop. Hill restarted second on lap 47 as one truck stayed on track. Hill ran in lock-step formation at the front of the field with the outside lane and took the lead on lap 50 before settling into third position. On lap 58, a bump draft from behind hooked Hill’s Toyota Tundra hard right into the outside wall down the backstretch and triggered a 21-truck melee. The damage sustained was too severe to continue and handed Hill and the HRE team a 32nd-place finish.
Austin Hill Quote:
“It seemed like the inside lane was pretty good and forming up pretty good, but it looked like the 38 (Todd Gilliland) might have got hit by the 23 (Chase Purdy) there and it got him just off center of me and when he did, I didn’t know I was wrecking until I was in the fence. I thought me and the 38 were working really well together and the United Rentals Toyota Tundra was really fast today. We were just biding our time and weren’t pushing too hard. Just knew there was a lot of racing left. Just thankful to NASCAR and everybody for keeping us safe because that was a pretty decent hit that I took there. I was like a pinball being knocked around by all the other trucks out there. I hope everybody else is okay as well. Talladega, what do you say? This is a product of what you get when you come to these places. Sometimes you end up on the hook and sometimes you end up in victory lane. Today we’re on the hook. Can’t thank all the guys at HRE (Hattori Racing Enterprises) enough. We’ll go onto the next one and see if we can stay out of the urgent care. I’ve been in too many of these. I need to stay out of that place.”