Austin Hill tallied a seventh-place finish in Saturday evening’s Ultimate Tailgaing 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). The finish marked Hill’s second top-10 of the 2019 season in as many races and is his career-best result in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series (NGOTS) at his home track.
Adverse weather conditions cancelled qualifying on Saturday morning, but handed Hill and the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota team the pole position for the 130-lap contest. On the initial start, Hill’s momentum was hampered after being hit in the rear bumper which caused him to fall to sixth on the first lap. The Winston, GA native recovered quickly to maintain his position in the top 10 and eventually climbed to fifth at the end of Stage 1 on lap 40 after battling a tight condition.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli gave Hill air pressure adjustments along with four tires on the first stage caution to aid his balance. However, Hill’s United Rentals pit crew dealt with issues in removing the right-side tires out of the wheel wells during pit stops throughout the event. Hill restarted eighth on the lap 47 restart and made steady progress to finish Stage 2 in sixth at lap 80. Hill pitted again under the lap 82 caution for four tires and rejoined the field in 12th.
Over the final stage, Hill once again made a methodical march up the leader board and into sixth position on lap 100. Hill’s progress was halted by a caution on lap 112, and pitted for the final time under the caution. A multi-truck accident combined with persistent mist caused a red flag on lap 119 and set up a frantic five-lap dash to the finish. Hill restarted on the unenviable outside lane, but managed to fight through a tight handling condition to take the checkered flag in seventh position. It was Hill's second top-10 finish of the season and has him one point out of the championship lead.
Austin Hill Quote:
“All in all, we had a pretty good truck all night. We really had long run speed. We struggled on the short run speed for the most part. It seemed like that’s where we were hurting. But all in all, it was a good effort for our team.”
“It’s really big (to finish in the top 10 after Daytona). I felt like we had a top-five truck all night. It would take us so long to get going. Restarts, I kept choosing the wrong lanes at the right time. It hurt our exit and our momentum down the straightaway. But once we got going, and had five or 10 laps under our belt, we had a top-five truck all night. It’s just, we struggled on the initial get up.”