Austin Hill and the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series competitors will tackle one of the biggest wild card races on the calendar with the inaugural running on Daytona International Speedway’s (DIS) road course. The 3.56-mile layout at the “World Center of Racing” serves as the series’ lone road course event of the season and provides Hill an opportunity to capitalize on his enjoyment of road racing, but poses an added challenge without practice. The driver of the No. 16 Fukushima / Tochigi Toyota, Toyota Racing Development Tundra finished fifth in last year’s road course event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP) and hopes to become the first Gander Trucks driver to win on both DIS’ superspeedway and road course configurations. A victory on Sunday would also allow Hill to pocket an extra $50,000 bonus, courtesy of Gander RV & Outdoors’ Triple Truck Challenge, and would keep him eligible for a possible $500,000 payout at World Wide Technology Raceway on August 30th.
Throwback to 1993 … Hill’s No. 16 is featuring a throwback scheme to one of the most iconic cars in sports car racing history. For the Gander Trucks’ maiden outing on DIS’ road course, Hill will carry the colors of Toyota’s first victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1993. The All-American Racers team, owned by the legendary Dan Gurney, put Toyota in victory lane with their Eagle MKIII car and a Turbocharged Toyota in-line 4 engine. PJ Jones, Rocky Moran, and Mark Dismore piloted the MKIII and Toyota power plant to victory by a staggering 10 laps after setting a qualifying track record that stood for 26 years until 2019. The Eagle MKIII entered 27 events in the early 1990’s and won 21 of those races, including an IMSA record 14 straight, making it one of the most dominant cars and schemes in motorsports history.
Road Course History … The Winston, Ga. native does not have a wealth of experience on road courses, but he does have results. Both of his Gander Trucks road course starts came at CTMP and have resulted in top-10 finishes. His road course debut in 2018 yielded an eighth-place finish with Young’s Motorsports and solidified his road racing prowess with a top-five last season.
Season To Date… Through 11 of 23 races, Hill has constructed an extraordinary season with one victory, five top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He’s led the Gander Trucks championship standings for the last 10 races and has earned a guaranteed playoff berth courtesy of his first victory of the season at Kansas Speedway. Hill holds a 42-point advantage in the standings and tops the series in average finish (7.6), average running position (6.8), laps led (197), and driver rating (108.3).
Chassis Selection … Chassis No. 004 is making its yearly appearance to go curb-hopping and gear-slamming with no practice on DIS’ road course. This Toyota Tundra is specifically designed for road course racing and has seen action the last three seasons with crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the No. 16 team. Chassis No. 004 has produced top five finishes in its last three appearances dating back to 2017. Hill finished fifth last season, Brett Moffitt tallied a podium finish in 2018, and Ryan Truex delivered a fourth-place finish in 2017, all of which came at CTMP.
Tune In … The lone road course event of the Gander Trucks season will be televised live on Sunday afternoon at Noon E.T on FOX Sports 1. Stay updated with Hill and the No. 16 team by following @Hattori_Racing on Twitter, Hattori Racing Enterprises on Facebook, and @hattoriracing on Instagram.
Austin Hill Quote:On running the Daytona road course for the first time:“I’m excited to run the road course. I know a lot of people might be nervous about it, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve always enjoyed road course racing. It’ll be a big challenge to take the green flag with no practice and to learn your marks during the race. We need to stay out of trouble, inch up to it and be smart the first stage and make sure we’re around in the final stage. Maybe we can put this TRD throwback scheme back in victory lane like PJ Jones did in 1993 at the 24 Hours. That’d be cool to do for everyone at Toyota, TRD, Fukushima Toyota and Tochigi Toyota over in Japan, and for everyone at United Rentals too. We’ve done a lot of preparation in the sim, the shop, and watching as much video as possible, so hopefully we can put it to good use and take home that 50 thousand dollars from Gander RV & Outdoors.”