Austin Hill began his race weekend at Watkins Glen International (WGI) with a second-place finish in his second ARCA Menards Series appearance of the season on Friday evening. The driver of the No. 1 ARCO Design/Build Industrial Toyota Camry equaled his best-career road course result and capped off his limited ARCA schedule with a pair of runner-up finishes.
The Winston, Ga. native earned the third starting position thanks to his lap of 74.96 seconds in the afternoon’s practice/qualifying session. From the outset, crew chief Scott Zipadelli and spotter Eddie D’Hondt preached tire management to Hill and the message paid off. Hill ran inside the top five during the entire first run until the race’s first caution on lap 18. The first yellow flag of the event served as the race’s halfway break and allowed Hill and the field to come to pit road for service.
Zipadelli and the ARCO Design/Build Industrial team gave Hill four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments to aid his free handling condition through right-hand corners under the controlled caution. On lap 19, Hill went back to work from the fourth position and employed his tire conservation skills once more. Over the 23-lap run to the finish, Hill continued to display his muscle as the laps clicked off. On lap 24, the race leaded pitted with a mechanical issue and elevated Hill to third position and then began stalking the No. 18 car for the second spot. Hill took over the second position with four laps to go but ran out of time to track down the race leader. He took the checkered flag in second and earned his career-best finish in four starts at WGI.
Austin Hill Quote:“Today was just a nice, smooth race for us. Nothing crazy happened or anything like that. It seemed like when we fired off, we wanted to save tires, but I wanted to go about five laps sooner than what we did go. When I tried to, the tires weren’t there yet. I couldn’t put the throttle down like I wanted to. I couldn’t charge the corner like I wanted to. It took about five or so laps too long for it to come in, and I think that’s one reason why it took a little longer to get around the No. 18. I don’t know how much the No. 20 was riding there at the end. Obviously, you don’t want to make any mistakes when you have that big of a lead, but I felt really confident that we could have possibly ran him down if we had maybe 10 more laps or something. The biggest thing is, that it helps us for the truck race for tomorrow. That was the whole reason we came, have some fun, and build on the notebook a little bit for the race tomorrow. Starting on the pole, you want to know what you got going into Turn 1. I have a lot more confidence going into tomorrow. Our ARCO Design/Build Toyota Camry was good today, just not good enough.”