Austin Hill made a late charge through the field to pick up a 10th-place finish in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway and vaulted himself to fourth in the championship standings. The driver of the No. 16 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra earned 40 points, the fourth-most of all drivers, and gained two positions in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver standings.
Hill started second in the Camping World Trucks’ second visit to the 0.75-mile short track in the last 16 years and held his ground inside the top five for the entire opening stage. The first 70-lap stint went caution free as Hill battled a tight condition in the center of both corners. Despite the handling issue, the Winston, Ga. native earned six points by running fifth at lap 70 and received four tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment from the Mobil 1 crew under the caution period.
Two cautions in Stage 2 foreshadowed the closing laps of the event as Hill navigated a pair of chaotic restarts on laps 99 and 105. An improved balance allowed Hill to advance to fourth by lap 137 and collected an additional seven points on lap 140. Under the stage caution, Hill received the same four-tire pit service but was nabbed with a speeding penalty on pit road that relegated him to the 26th position, the last truck on the lead lap.
On lap 151, Hill began to mount his charge over the final 99 circuits. Multiple cautions kept the field bunched together and the intensity high as Hill advanced inside the top 15 by the lap 182 caution. He rejoined the top 10 on lap 192, just before another caution on lap 196 which allowed the majority of the field to take their final set of fresh tires. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli called Hill to pit road under the caution while eight trucks stayed on track. Hill lined up 17th on lap 210 and picked his way through frantic traffic once more. He rejoined the top 15 by lap 225 and reclaimed a top-10 position with just over 10 laps to go. Hill maintained his position to finish 10th at the checkered flag and claimed the fourth position in the point standings after six events.
Austin Hill Quote:“We made some good gains on our Mobil 1 Tundra throughout the day. We definitely had a Tundra that was capable of finishing in the top five, but that speeding penalty put us behind and we just had to fight so much traffic to battle our way back up through there. It was nice to get some stage points to give ourselves a bit of a bonus there and a good point day. We didn’t get the finish to match the speed we had today, but we keep making gains on our short track package. We’ll go to Kansas in a couple weeks and try to put the full night together to get ourselves a win.”