Austin Hill’s playoff run was met with instant adversity at World Wild Technology Raceway (WWT Raceway) after being caught up in a multi-truck incident on Friday night. The driver of the No. 16 AISIN Toyota Tundra was in line for his eighth straight top-10 finish when calamity struck on the front straightaway in the late stages of the event. Despite the result, Hill sits 21 points above the cutline line in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff standings with two races remaining in round one.
The two-time race winner this season started on the pole and swapped the lead on the opening lap of the race. Hill led the first two circuits before an extremely loose handling condition began to hamper the AISIN Toyota Tundra’s performance. On lap eight, Hill reported a loose condition on corner entry to crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the HRE team and ran in fourth position by the race’s first caution on lap 25. On lap 55, Hill collected three points in eighth position as he wrestled with loose condition on both ends of WWR Raceway’s egg-shaped layout.
Under the Stage 1 break, Zipadelli gave Hill four tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments to combat the handling issue, but the loose condition persisted. Despite the lack of rear grip and forward drive, Hill contended for position inside the top 10 and finished Stage 2 in the 10th spot to earn one point on lap 110. The AISIN team equipped Hill with another set of fresh tires and significant chassis adjustments under the race’s second break as Hill lined up 10th for the restart on lap 113.
The competition instantly intensified in the final stage as Hill began to take advantage of tight racing off Turn 4 to make a four-wide maneuver. As he was in the process of making the bold move to challenge for a top-five position, two trucks made contact in the outside lane and collected Hill into the inside wall causing significant damage to his Tundra. The HRE team made feverish repairs to salvage precious points as several other playoff contenders suffered setbacks earlier in the event. Hill managed to finish 23rd of the 28 trucks running, and ahead of three other playoff drivers.
Austin Hill Quote:“It’s definitely not the way we wanted to start our playoffs with our AISIN Toyota Tundra. We fought loose the whole night, and we’d really fight it in the middle of turns one and two. It made it hard to get back to the gas and stay committed to the throttle. Right before the wreck happened, the guys made some good adjustments and had the balance going in the right direction for sure. I wish we would have been able to run it out, but we just got caught up in that wreck with nowhere to go. I feel like we deserve one at Darlington, so we’ll go there in a couple weeks motivated and ready to go.”