Austin Hill’s debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s (IMS) road course came to a premature close on Saturday afternoon after a mechanical issue relegated him to a 29th-place finish. The driver of the No. 61 AISIN Toyota Supra was primed for a strong run in his third NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the season after coming off his first-career road course victory at Watkins Glen International last weekend in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Hill had made significant progress up the leaderboard when the mechanical woes appeared on lap 28.
Hill entered IMS on the strength of two-consecutive Camping World Trucks victories and qualified his AISIN Toyota Supra 28th on the grid Saturday morning. The Winston, Ga. native avoided calamity on a chaotic start to the race in Turn 6 as numerous cars drove off course causing the event’s first caution. Hill ran as high as 19th in Stage 1 before a lack of forward bite and a tight balance in the nose hampered his progress. A caution on lap 16 allowed crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the HRE squad to service Hill’s Supra with four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Hill restarted deep in the field and finished Stage 1 in 26th position on lap 20. Zipadelli took advantage of the stage break to add fuel and make a critical wedge adjustment under the yellow that brought the AISIN Toyota to life. On lap 24, Hill restarted 25th and began a march up the leaderboard as the adjustment significantly aided his center roll speed. After taking the 20th position on lap 28, the misfortune of a mechanical issue struck in Turn 13 as Hill was continuing his advancement through the field. The issue forced Hill to retire after officially completing 27 of the 62 laps.
Austin Hill Quote:“We had really woke our AISIN Toyota Supra up on the stage caution with that last adjustment. We had been struggling with keeping the front tires connected and the adjustment Scott (Zipadelli) and the guys made at the stage break really helped us roll through the center of the corner. We were starting to make some ground and definitely felt we had a top-15 car and would have only kept making it better throughout the afternoon. I wish we could have kept fighting for position and kept moving up, but we’ll head to Gateway next week and hopefully get our Truck Series playoffs started off on the right foot.”