Austin Hill notched his sixth top-10 result of the season with a ninth-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ inaugural visit to Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The driver of the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra delivered his fourth top 10 road course finish in five career starts after being spun on the first lap and sits fourth in the championship standings after nine events.
Hill and the Camping World Trucks competitors competed the entire day on wet weather tires and under rainy skies for most of the event. While Hill qualified ninth, he encountered immediate adversity after contact from another truck sent him spinning in Turn 11 on the opening lap. Without the aid of a caution, Hill managed to advance from 33rd to inside the top 15 by lap nine. The United Rentals team elected to keep him on track through the balance of Stage 1 and ran 11th on lap 12 when the stage break occurred.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli put fresh wet weather tires on Hill’s Tundra during the stage break along with fuel and a wedge adjustment to curtail his tight condition in the slow speed sections of the course. Hill restarted 15th on lap 15 and once again started a steady march up the leaderboard. He officially cracked the top 10 on lap 20 and pitted from ninth position on lap 22 before the stage break. While the pit strategy placed Hill 13th at the end of Stage 2 on lap 26, it allowed him to stay on track under the caution and restart seventh on lap 29.
The final 13 laps went clean and green and featured the longest green-flag run of the event. Hill made a dashing three-wide move in turn 1 on the restart that briefly put him in the top five, but contact in the esses section from close-quarter racing bounced him back to 10th. As the rain subsided and track conditions gradually dried, Hill reported that his wet weather tires were excessively wearing out. Despite the increased tire wear, Hill remained tenacious in the cockpit and gained two positions coming to the white flag. He took the checkers in ninth position for his sixth top-10 finish in the last seven races.
Austin Hill Quote:“We knew we weren’t going to fire off the best. We had more of a long run truck than anything, even in the rain. It was hard to run really fast lap times in the first two or three laps. Once we got into a rhythm and heat got in the tires, we were a little better. On lap 1, I got turned. I went from running like eighth or ninth all the way to last. When you get behind like that, and we had a lot of left rear damage, so I kind of lost a lot of downforce because of that. We couldn’t really lean on the left rear through the right handers and we were really free through there because of it. So it just got us behind on the day. We got up inside the top-10, and I thought we were going to have a shot at a solid top-five, but on that last restart, we got to battling and got some damage and it would just take too long to get going. We lost a little bit of track position. Once we got into line, we were okay. To salvage a top-10 is a good day for us, especially with everything considering that we had happen. We’re just frustrated right now. We want to win races, so to finish ninth is not really good. I wanted to get a win out here in Texas with the Tundras being built just down the road. It would have met a lot to us, but we have Texas Motor Speedway coming up, so maybe we can get one then.”