Austin Hill tallied his best finish at Kansas Speedway on Friday night and delivered an impactful fourth-place finish for his No. 16 TRD 40th Anniversary team. The result marked Hill’s first pair of back-to-back top-10 finishes of 2019 and moved him up to seventh in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship standings.
Hill’s track-best finish at Kansas started with a track-best qualifying effort of seventh and was a consistent resident inside the top 10 for the majority of the 167-lap event. In the first stage, Hill took advantage of a lap-26 caution to pit from eighth position for four tires and a chassis adjustment to aid his loose handling condition. The pit call by crew chief Scott Zipadelli paid off as Hill blitzed his way from 13th on lap 30 to finish Stage 1 in fifth at lap 40.
A fuel-only stop under the Stage break netted Hill the second position on the lap 49 restart, but some tense three and four-wide moments relegated him as low as ninth. Hill stuck with it and kept his Tundra inside the top 10 and earned three points by running eighth at the end of Stage 2 on lap 80. The No. 16 team came through with another solid pit stop under the yellow flag to gain Hill two spots to sixth for the ensuing restart on lap 88. Chassis and air pressure changes courtesy of Zipadelli allowed Hill to rejoin the top-five contenders on lap 89 and executed a solid four tire green-flag pit stop on lap 126.
The final caution of the night came on lap 140 when the second and third-place trucks tangled and allowed Hill to move into fourth. The battle that followed on the lap 144 restarted involved as many as five trucks for the lead in a mad scramble for the race win. Hill was initially shuffled to seventh, but resiliently worked the bottom of the speedway to claw his way back into the top-five with 14 laps to go and challenged for a podium finish in the final ten laps. Hill maintained his position in fourth to the checkered flag to collect his first top-five finish since winning at Daytona International Speedway in the season opener in February. After seven races, Hill holds the seventh spot in the Gander Trucks standings, 54 markers out of the lead.
Austin Hill Quote:
“A few guys had some issues. I feel like we had a sixth, seventh-place truck really. But, the guys fought hard all day. You know, we fought really loose all race long. The second set of tires got us tight and I just think maybe we had a bad set of tires. Once we put the other set on, it was just way too loose after loosening it up. So, that really hurt us. I can’t thank TRD enough for coming on board again this weekend and celebrating TRD’s 40th Anniversary. It’s really special for them and for me to be able to drive that truck. I wanted to put it in victory lane so bad, but it just wasn’t in the cards tonight.”