Running Hard to the Big Dance … Austin Hill enters his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) fresh off his second-career victory last Saturday at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). The driver of the No. 16 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra enters “Thunder Valley” with a new lease on life heading into the first round of the Gander Trucks “postseason” tied for fourth on the Playoff Grid.
Book End Wins … Hill put an exclamation point on the regular season after leading a race-high 26 laps and driving to victory lane at MIS. The victory gave he and the No. 16 team a total of 10 playoff points heading into “The World’s Fastest Half Mile” and put a period on the 16-race regular season that began with a victory at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). Hill, crew chief Scott Zipadelli, and the HRE squad will look to begin the playoffs in the same fashion that they ended the regular season; in victory lane.
Thunder Valley History … Thursday’s UNOH 200 marks Hill’s fourth start at BMS. He has three previous appearances on the 0.533-mile short track with a best finish of 19th in 2016. The Winston, GA native has two top-10 finishes on short tracks in his career and looks for his top-five on a short track to start his playoff quest on the right foot.
Season to Date … The 16 regular season races are in the books with the remaining seven playoff races on the docket. Hill qualified for his first-career playoff appearance courtesy of his first-career win at DIS in February followed by his victory at MIS. In total, Hill has notched two wins, four top-five, and eighth top 10 finishes thus far. He has also collected two pole positions and led a total of 121 laps.
Chassis Selection … Zipadelli and the No. 16 crew have prepared chassis No. 008 for Thursday’s playoff opener at BMS. This chassis most recently raced at Kentucky Speedway in July and has a best finish of fourth earlier this season at Kansas Speedway. This Toyota Tundra has carried much of the workload this season and has six total starts in 2019.
Tune In … FOX Sports’ coverage of the first round of the playoffs begins with tape-delayed coverage of qualifying at 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). FS1’s race coverage kicks off at 8:00 p.m. ET followed by the green flag at 8:30 p.m. ET. Stay updated with Hill and the No. 16 team by following @Hattori_Racing on Twitter, @hattoriracing on Instagram, and Hattori Racing Enterprises on Facebook.
Austin Hill Quote:
On beginning his first-career playoffs:
“We had an up and down regular season, but the win last week definitely has us going in the right direction. This is a great group of guys and a great race team. I couldn’t be happier to be working with them and I feel like we’ve gotten better working together the longer the regular season has gone. I think that showed last week with executing well in a lot of different areas to put ourselves in position to win. Scott (Zipadelli) and these guys built a really fast Toyota Tundra last weekend and they put a ton of effort into every truck that goes to the racetrack. Bristol is a tough place. A lot of things happen in a short period of time, so hopefully we can stay out of trouble, execute the right way and give the folks from Toyota Tsusho a trip to victory lane.”