Austin Hill left Darlington Raceway with a five-point cushion on the cut line in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff standings after a 12th-place finish on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 16 Ibaraki Toyopet Toyota Tundra soldiered through a tight condition for the duration of the 147-lap event at the “Lady in Black” to preserve his provisional transfer position on the playoff grid.
Hill began his third-career start at the track “Too Tough to Tame” from the seventh position and immediately had his hands full with a tight handling condition from the drop of the green flag. By the lap 15 competition caution, Hill maintained a top-10 position, but came to the attention of crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the Ibaraki Toyopet team for significant chassis adjustments. He restarted 33rd on lap 21 and managed to advance to 22nd by the end of Stage 1 on lap 45.
The Winston, Ga. native carried the extremely tight condition in Turns 3 and 4 through the balance of Stage 1 and received another sizable chassis adjustment under yellow on lap 49. Hill restarted 17th thanks to efficient pit worked by the HRE team and climbed as high as 15th. A subsequent caution on lap 68 allowed Hill to pit for additional adjustments to free up the balance and restarted 25th on lap 72. Hill was able to advance back up to 15thby the end of Stage 2 on lap 90 while still fighting a “numb” nose on the exit of Turn 4.
Hill restarted 14th on lap 98 after receiving another batch of multiple chassis adjustments under the stage yellow. A short nine-lap run allowed Hill to gain two positions before he took advantage of a caution on lap 107 to take on a fresh set of tires. He restarted with an eight-lap advantage on tires on lap 111 in 17th position. He took advantage of the fresher tires despite the lingering handling condition and advanced up to 12th over the final 32 circuits.
Austin Hill Quote:“We were just really tight the entire day with our Ibaraki Toyopet Toyota Tundra. Scott (Zipadelli) and the guys made a ton of adjustments every stop, and we made a couple extra before the stages to take a shot at making it better, but didn’t really make a whole lot of progress on the balance. Hopefully we can go back to the shop and diagnose the issue. We’re still above the cut line, so we’ll go to Bristol and execute to stay alive and get ourselves on to the next round.”