Austin Hill comes sliding into the dirt-covered high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) with the strength of two-consecutive podium finishes at his back. The driver of the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra comes to the first of two dirt races on the calendar looking to upset a slew of NASCAR Cup Series regulars and dirt racing veterans. A unique qualifying and race format also present a twist for Hill, as he will take part in one of four heat races on Saturday afternoon which will set the starting lineup for Saturday night’s main event.
On the Right Track … The No. 16 team has displayed their trademark resilient character over the past two races in response to starting the season with two finishes outside the top-20 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). While Hill and company are still looking to break into victory lane, they have tallied a pair of top-three finishes in their last two outings. After leaving DIS tied for 23rd in the standings, Hill has virtually erased that memory with finishes of third and second to launch into sixth position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings. Hill is back on the right track after a runner-up finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend as the circuit heads for a new spin on “The Last Great Colosseum”.
The Dirt on Dirt … The Winston, Ga. native has a pair of Camping World Truck starts on dirt at Eldora Speedway and is searching for his first career top-10 finish on the clay. Hill took part in the Bristol Dirt Nationals a week ago in preparation for this week’s dirt return behind the wheel of a 604 crate late model and finished second in his feature on Wednesday, March 17th. World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series champion, and fellow Georgian, Shane Clanton was with Hill during his two-day dirt adventure at BMS and has leaned on the “Georgia Bulldog” to accelerate his assimilation into the dirt discipline.
Chassis Selection … Chassis No. 003 returns to HRE’s active rotation for the first time in over three seasons on Saturday night. This Toyota Tundra most recently competed at Martinsville Speedway in October 2017 with Ryan Truex at the controls and has since been converted specifically for dirt racing.
Tune In … The first NASCAR race at “The Last Great Colosseum” will have wall-to-wall coverage on FOX Sports 1. Friday’s practice sessions will be televised on FS1 at 3:00 p.m. ET and 5:30 p.m. ET. Heat races will kick off Saturday’s program at 4:30 p.m. ET followed by the main event green flag at 8:00 p.m. ET. Stay connected with the No. 16 United Rentals team by following @Hattori_Racing on Twitter, @hattoriracing on Instagram, and Hattori Racing Enterprises on Facebook.
Austin Hill Quote:On what he learned during the Bristol Dirt Nationals and expectations for Saturday night:“After running the crate late model at Bristol last week, I’m a lot more excited to go back than I was before. It was a blast to be up there racing, get some laps on the track, and see how the track surface progressed while we were up there. I’ve never been much of a dirt racer so it was a big help to have Shane (Clanton) with us and lending us some of his knowledge and advice. Hopefully we’ll be able to put all that experience to good use with our United Rentals Toyota Tundra on Saturday. Track position is going to be big, just like it is every week. I think you’ll have to be as aggressive as you can be to get as many passing points as possible in the heat races to start towards the front. That’s going to be a big key and also keeping up with how quickly the racetrack is going to change. We got an idea of how the track will progress last week, but with 40 trucks for 150 laps, it’ll still be a learning process as we go. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble, get a good finish and keep moving up in the point standings.”