Austin Hill earned an 18th-place finish on Saturday afternoon at the Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) ROVAL in his fourth NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the season. The driver of the No. 61 AISIN Toyota Supra started 40th, dead last on the grid, to capture his best career NXS road course finish in three starts.
Hill’s second start on the CMS ROVAL began from the tail of the field, but the Winston, Ga. native made an immediate jump up the leaderboard. Despite a tight handling condition in the slower, infield section of the track, Hill muscled his way through half the field to 20th by lap eight. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli played an aggressive pit strategy on lap 16 and called Hill to pit road for four tires, fuel, and adjustments prior to the Stage 1 finish. Hill was scored 32nd at the end of Stage 1 on lap 20, but inherited the fourth position for the lap 23 restart as most of the lead lap cars pitted under yellow.
The tight balance persisted for Hill during the opening laps of Stage 2, and hindered his forward drive exiting many of the ROVAL’s slow-speed corners. A yellow on lap 28 allowed Hill to pit for a more significant chassis adjustment and restarted 29th on lap 33. Zipadelli’s adjustments improved the AISIN Supra as Hill drove up to finish Stage 2 in 18th on lap 40.
A second dose of chassis adjustments further improved Hill’s balance beginning on the lap 43 restart and as he put the afternoon’s longest green flag run to proper use. Hill advanced from 25th to 20th in the 22-lap green flag run before a late caution with three laps remaining set up an overtime restart. Zipadelli equipped Hill with a fresh set of tires for the OT restart and hustled from 24th to take the checkered flag 19th. After several cars spun through the final chicane, Hill was credited with an 18th-place finish.
Austin Hill Quote:“We improved on our AISIN Toyota Supra as the day went on. We started off really tight free-rolling through the slower corners, the chicanes, and the left-hander leading back onto the oval. Scott (Zipadelli) and all the guys kept tuning on our Supra throughout the day and felt like we had pretty decent pace during that long green run towards the end. We had a pretty aggressive pit strategy all race, and even on that green-white-checkered, putting some fresh tires on might have earned us a couple more spots. We learned quite a bit running these two road course races in the Xfinity Series this weekend, and we’ll try to keep improving next week at Texas.”