Austin Hill delivered a relentless effort on Sunday afternoon at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) that resulted in a third-place finish. The driver of the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra battled through a multitude of adversity during the 160 laps outside of downtown St. Louis to capture his seventh top-five finish of the year, and continues to lead the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship standings with two races remaining in the regular season.
Hill began his fourth start at WWTR from the fourth position by virtue of his performance a week ago at Dover International Speedway. The Winston, Ga. native immediately was plagued by a “really tight” handling condition that persisted throughout the entirety of Stage 1. While he valiantly fought in the top five for 35 laps, a significant brake vibration compounded his handling imbalance and relegated him to 14th at the end of the stage on lap 55.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the United Rentals team made substantial chassis adjustments along with four tires and fuel under the controlled pit cycle under caution. Hill restarted 14th on lap 62 and began to make forward progress but continued to be hampered by a tight condition all the way through the corners. Roughly halfway through Stage 2, Hill radioed Zipadelli and company that the brake vibration began to reappear and worsen. Despite the adversity, Hill continued to hustle the United Rentals Tundra and picked up the 11th spot on the final lap of Stage 2.
Hill received another batch of sizable chassis adjustments under the stage break, this time in the left rear, and restarted ninth after choosing the bottom lane for the lap 117 restart. Hill grabbed one position and took advantage of restarting on the outside lane on lap 133 to advance to sixth which presented him an opportunity to challenge for position inside the top five. The final caution on lap 144 allowed Hill to choose the inside lane for the restart and lined up fifth. Hill took full advantage of the inside lane to launch into third place and began to pressure the top two trucks for the lead in the final 10 laps. The Gander Trucks point leader’s valiant bid for second came up short, but managed to collect his fifth podium finish of the season and holds a 28 point advantage in the standings.
Austin Hill Quote:“The biggest issue for us all day was we just fired off really tight to start with. Had a really bad chatter in the front end early in the race. For whatever reason, we started having some brake issues. I don’t really know what was going on there. The brakes would pulsate going into the corner and make the whole truck shake. One lap the brakes would be loose on entry, the next lap it would kind of just make the truck get tight on entry. Working with the brakes was a really big battle all day. Everybody at HRE, Scott (Zipadelli) and all the guys, it just goes to show we never give up. We didn’t get any stage points today in the first or second stage, which is a bummer for us just looking at the points situation. It just goes to show how hard this team works and that we just have that ‘don’t give up’ mentality. I honestly think if we had one more restart, one more go at it and be able to restart up front there in third, there’s no telling what could have happened. We could have had a shot at the win. Our truck was pretty good at the end. In that battle with the No. 23, my brake issues started getting worse again and started fighting really tight off the corner as well. All in all, really good, hard-fought day. I can’t thank everybody at United Rentals enough for letting me do what I do. Like I said, everybody at HRE just work their guts out each and every week.”