Austin Hill earned his seventh top-10 result of the 2021 season with a ninth-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) on Friday night. The driver of the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra matched his finish from CMS in 2020, but managed to score the second-most points (44) of all drivers in the field. The efficient evening for the Winston, Ga. driver resulted in him gaining a position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings and sits third after 10 events.
Hill began the event by posting the fastest lap in the lone practice session midday Friday and inherited the third starting position after a passing rain shower cancelled qualifying. At the drop of the green flag, Hill immediately challenged for the lead and ran in the top five for the entire first stage despite dealing with a lack of grip in both ends of his Toyota Tundra. A tight condition on corner entry hindered Hill in the first 30 lap segment, but collected seven points in fourth position at the end of Stage 1 on lap 30.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the United Rentals team gave Hill four tires, fuel and a sizable chassis adjustment at the first pit stop and allowed him to restart fourth on lap 39. A pair of yellow flags slowed Stage 2 as Hill elected to stay on track during the caution period. That allowed him to restart second on a lap 60 restart, which resulted in a one-lap dash to the stage end. Hill collected nine points in second position after attempting to use the PJ1 traction compound in the outside lane to his advantage.
Due to varying pit strategies, Hill restarted 12th on lap 69 after taking on four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments during the stage caution. Hill wasted no time advancing through the field as he sliced his way from 12th to fifth in one lap. He ran fourth until making his final pit stop at lap 102 during a cycle of green flag pit stops. He and the HRE team executed a solid sequence on pit road to gain the second position following the pit cycle. Shortly thereafter, a severe accident on lap 116 left a massive debris field on the frontstretch in front of the race leaders.
While avoiding the incident, a piece of debris punctured a gaping hole in Hill’s nose that would severely hamper the aerodynamic platform on his Toyota Tundra. Hill managed to hang on to the top 10 over the final 10 laps and collect his second consecutive ninth-place finish.
Austin Hill Quote:“We had a really fast United Rentals Toyota Tundra tonight. We were able to get some points in both stages and Scott and the guys made some good adjustments to get our truck better throughout the night. We put ourselves in another good position and that big wreck happened in front of us. It’s unfortunate to run through all that debris and didn’t help us at all on the restart. We’ll try again at Texas and try to get back into victory lane in a couple weeks.”