Austin Hill finished 12th after a chaotic climax to Friday evening’s overtime finish at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). Hill led 11 laps, contended for his second-consecutive MIS victory throughout the 107-lap event and still holds a 42-point advantage atop the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series standings.
The driver of the No. 16 Toyota Racing Development, United Rentals Toyota Tundra began the evening from fifth and wrestled a tight handling condition from the outset. Hill patiently bided his time in the opening laps and collected five points in sixth position at the end of Stage 1.
Under the stage caution, Hill received four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment from crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the HRE team to improve the handling on his Tundra. Hill took full advantage of the adjustments and advanced from 20th to seventh after a variety of strategies shuffled the running order. He bagged another four points at the end of Stage 2 on lap 40 in seventh position.
Hill rocketed to the lead on the lap 48 restart and paced the field until making his final pit stop under caution on lap 60. On the lap 65 restart, Hill experimented with the bottom lane with the new choose cone rule, which allows drivers to choose their preferred lane for restarts, but fell to 10th. He quickly recovered and propelled himself back into the top five on a lap 77 restart. Hill remained a potent threat for the victory through multiple late race restarts. On the race’s final restart at lap 106, Hill made a strong move to the middle for the race lead, but the No. 98 truck made contact with his right front fender and spun across the No. 16. The incident relegated Hill outside the top 10 and ultimately a 12th-place result.
Austin Hill Quote:“We didn’t start off where we needed to today with our TRD, United Rentals Tundra, but Scott (Zipadelli) and the guys made really good adjustments and got the truck handling pretty close to where we needed it to be in clean air. We were able to get ourselves back towards the front after some guys stayed out and took two tires. We had a shot at the win there on those green-white-checkereds, but unfortunately it didn’t work out for us. It was kind of a mental game with the choose cone and where you wanted to restart. On that last one, we got a great launch on the top and went to the inside of the No. 98 and we just got squeezed there. Unfortunate ending, because I thought that move could have won the race, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”