Austin Hill got back on track with a seventh-place finish on Friday evening at Dover International Speedway in the JEGS 200. The result is Hill’s best-career finish at the Monster Mile in five career starts and his third top-10 finish of the 2019 campaign.
The driver of the No. 16 TRD 40th Anniversary Toyota Tundra took the green flag from the 12th position and made a quick move to eighth on the opening circuit. Hill managed to advance to seventh during the balance of Stage 1 despite fighting dirty air and a lack of lateral grip on corner exit. On lap 45, Hill took the green and white checkers at the end of Stage 1 in seventh to earn four points and came to pit road for four tires, fuel, and air pressure changes.
Quick work by the No. 16 team allowed Hill to restart fifth on lap 55, however his balance built extremely loose and halted his forward progress. Stage 2 ran caution free until its conclusion on lap 90 as Hill maintained his position in the top five to collect six points. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli brought Hill to pit road for another set of four tires, fuel and adjustments and netted him two spots and into third.
Hill fired off just as loose when the race restarted on lap 99, but settled into the sixth position. Despite the handling condition, Hill managed to hold his ground inside the top six until a caution at lap 154 allowed him to pit for adjustments and take his final set of tires. However, a speeding penalty kicked Hill to the tail of the lead lap in 16th. The penalty was a blessing in disguise perhaps, as a multi-truck wreck occurred near the front of the field on the lap 160 restart.
Hill restarted 14th on lap 166 and immediately began ripping through the field towards the top 10. Multiple three-wide maneuvers allowed Hill to crack the top-10 on lap 169 and would move as high as seventh by lap 175. Hill maintained his seventh-place position through a restart with five laps to go to collect his third top-10 finish of the season.
Austin Hill Quote:
“We were just too loose all day. I thought as the rubber got put on it would tighten up, so the first pit stop we did not make that many adjustments. As the run went, the track just got looser and looser and we just didn’t keep up with it very well. We took a big swing at it after the second stage was over and it put a dent in it. Whenever we had that caution after the long green flag run, we pitted and made a big swing at it. When we pitted that time, I sped on pit road. I have to go back and think about it. I didn’t think I sped. I was right on my lights. I guess it could have bumped up there a little bit right there. All-in-all it was a good day. Coming from the back, it did not seem like many people could pass and we were able to drive back from 20th and get back up to seventh. I think after those adjustments we had a top five truck. It was just so hard to pass once we got up to seventh. I knew we were better than the 99. He was just holding a tight line on the bottom, and I kept getting tight. The aero game here is so huge. I can’t thank HRE, Scott (Zipadelli, crew chief) enough, along with Jack (Irving, TRD) and Tyler (Gibbs, TRD) with everything they have done with the Toyota program. It has been awesome. We will just go back to the drawing board and go from there. Seventh’s not bad but we want to win.”