Austin Hill was credited with a 27th-place finish after an overheating issue brought a premature end to a promising night at Texas Motor Speedway. Hill remains seventh in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series point standings and the only Gander Trucks driver locked into the playoffs after five races.
Hill and the No. 16 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota team displayed their speed by posting the quickest lap in Thursday’s practice sessions and followed that up by qualifying fifth on Friday afternoon. From the outset, Hill showed his muscle by racing in and around the top five throughout Stage 1, which included four chaotic restarts in the first 35 laps. Hill earned six points by running fifth at the end of the opening stage.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli brought Hill to the attention of the Safelite AutoGlass team during the lap 36 caution for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure change to aid his snug handling condition. While several strategies mixed up the field, Hill restarted 13th on lap 43 and immediately made a stunning, three wide maneuver on the outside to advance to sixth position in one lap. He then made a bold challenge for the top five before rising temperatures forced him to pit road under a lap 50 caution. Zipadelli and the HRE team made multiple pit stops to pull grille tape and cycle water through the system, but were unable to maintain a sufficient water temperature.
Hill’s night officially wrapped up after 75 laps in 27th position. He and the No. 16 team will look to regain ground in the point standings on May 3rd at Dover International Speedway.
Austin Hill Quote:
“It’s frustrating for all of us to have this issue, especially after we had such a fast Safelite Toyota Tundra tonight. We felt good about it in practice yesterday and qualified towards the front. We started the race pretty close with the balance, but after Scott (Zipadelli) made that air pressure change, I really liked how our truck drove and we definitely would have been in the top three to five competing for a win tonight. I wish we could have gotten everyone from Safelite a better finish, but we’ll go home, figure things out, and be ready for Dover in a few weeks.”