Austin Hill hit a career milestone on Friday night by capturing his first-career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series pole award en route to a fifth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway. The driver of the No. 16 SiriusXM Toyota Tundra led 11 laps and now has two top-10 finishes at the northern Illinois track in as many starts.
Hill’s pole lap of 30.57 seconds / 176.632 mph was a new track record and allowed him to lead the opening nine circuits. During the first stage, Hill’s balance built extremely tight but managed to muscle his SiriusXM Tundra to run fourth at the stage break on lap 35 to earn seven points. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli gave Hill four tires and a track bar adjustment to aid the handling and returned his driver to the track in fourth place.
Stage 2 played out in similar fashion for Hill as he was too tight on corner exit throughout most of the 24-lap run to end the segment. Despite the handling condition, Hill gained another six points in fifth position when the green and white checkered flag waved on lap 70. Zipadelli and the HRE squad gave Hill another set of fresh tires and a wedge adjustment under the caution to set him up for the final 78 lap segment to the checkers.
He restarted sixth on the lap 78 restart and grabbed three positions with an impressive four-wide move into Turn 1 on lap 79. The bid for additional track position proved valuable as Hill maintained his position in the top five for the vast majority of the final 63 laps. Zipadelli called Hill to pit road for his final pit stop on lap 121 for four tires and another chassis adjustment during a cycle of stops under the green flag. Hill cycled back to fifth position and held his ground for the balance of the event to earn his third top-five finish of the year.
Austin Hill Quote:
“We’re definitely disappointed with fifth place. We thought we had the speed to possibly get a win tonight. It just wasn’t there. We really thought the track was going to free up throughout the night and our truck just kept tightening up and tightening up. We could never just get on the other side of it. That last pit-stop under green, we put a dent in it, but we still needed some more to be able to run with the top-three. All in all, it was a great effort. We only fell back to sixth one time and for a majority of the time we were in the top-five. Can’t thank HRE enough and Scott (Zipadelli, crew chief) – they put a lot of work into these trucks. We want to win. Top-five is okay, but still frustrated with where I finished.”