|Austin Hill capped off an incredible breakout season with a dominating performance for his fourth victory of 2019 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) on Friday night. Hill stole the show and made a clean sweep in South Florida by collecting the first two stage wins of his career and led 56 laps en route to the win. The victory secured Hill a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver point standings and helped Toyota capture the 2019 Gander Trucks Manufacturer championship.|
Hill showed the muscle of his Chiba Toyopet Toyota Tundra from the first lap of practice, as he was third quickest in the first session on Friday morning. The Georgia native took the green flag from fifth position after qualifying was scraped due to rain. After losing momentum on the bottom of the track on the initial start and slipping to 11th, Hill began to blitz his way to the front of the field. The 25-year old began to make it obvious that he and the No. 16 Chiba Toyopet Tundra would set the pace as he advanced to fifth by lap 12. Hill took second on lap 25 and grabbed the lead on lap 29 to secure his first-career stage victory on lap later.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli made a small chassis adjustment under the Stage 1 caution to aid Hill’s snug balance, along with four tires and fuel. Hill restarted in sixth on lap 36 and immediately charged towards the front. Less than 10 laps later, Hill chased down the race leader and retook the top spot on lap 44. Hill paced the field until lap 60 to sweep both stages. Once again, Zipadelli and the HRE team gave Hill four tires, fuel, and a minute air pressure change under the caution to help Hill’s Chiba Toyopet Tundra turn in the center of both corners.
As a result of three trucks staying on track, Hill restarted fourth for the night’s final restart on lap 68. He methodically kept pace with the race leader and returned to the race lead on lap 90. Zipadelli called Hill to pit road on lap 99 in the middle of a green-flag pit stop cycle for his final stop of the event. While other competitors short pitted, Hill cycled to third position but quickly erased over a two-second deficit to permanently take the lead on lap 112. Hill delivered smooth, consistent laps, rim-riding HMS’s high banks, for the final 23 circuits to bookend the 2019 campaign with victories.
In 2019, Hill shattered outside expectations and his personal stats by recording three pole awards, four wins, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 23 races.
|Austin Hill Quote:“I just have to give it all to my guys. This is probably the best truck that I’ve had. I know we were really good at Vegas, but man, this thing was good. At Vegas we were on a different tire strategy than other guys, but we weren’t this time and we just showed them how good we actually were. I’m excited for the win, but at the same time it stings a little bit because I know if we would have been a little better in the Round of 6, we could be celebrating a win and a championship. I can’t thank everybody on this team enough. Can’t thank Chiba Toyopet, Toyota, TRD enough. With this win we locked up the manufacturer’s championship for Toyota so I’m really glad that I could be a part of that and help that out. Awesome way to end the season.”|