Last Ones Left Alive … Austin Hill enters the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ second visit to Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) in the thick of the playoff battle. The driver of the No. 16 Gunma Toyopet Toyota Tundra enters the Round 1 elimination race fifth in the championship standings, four points above the cut line. Hill and the No. 16 team led by crew chief Scott Zipadelli look to be one of the six teams left alive after the checkered flag at LVMS to continue their championship quest towards Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Up the Ante … As the stakes increase in the Gander Trucks garage, Hill has upped the ante over his last three races. Hill put an exclamation point on his breakout season with a victory at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) to close out the regular season and has notched two top-10 finishes to open the playoffs. Last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hill took advantage of the Gander Trucks off weekend to make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut and earned an impressive ninth-place finish. The 25-year old Georgian is all in at the most important time of the year and looks to continue his heater at LVMS on Friday night.
Las Vegas Line … Friday’s finale of Round 1 marks Hill’s fourth start in “Sin City”. In three previous races, Hill scored a track-best finish of 10th in March of 2018 after starting 13th. In his first LVMS appearance with the No. 16 team earlier this season, Hill qualified sixth and finished in the top 10 in both stages before an overheating issue knocked him out of contention.
Season to Date … After two of three races in Round 1, and a total of 18 races complete in 2019, Hill holds the fifth position on the Gander Trucks Playoff Grid. Hill is just two points out of third and has a four-point cushion over the cut line in an ultra-tight race to part of the six drivers to advance to Round 2. Hill has earned two victories, two pole awards with track record speeds, and has totaled five top-five’s and 10 top-10’s. He’ll look to extend his first playoff appearance to Round 2 on Friday night.
Chassis Selection … Three races after winning in its debut, chassis No. 010 makes a return to competition at LVMS. Hill drove this Toyota Tundra to his second win of the season at MIS after leading a race-high 26 laps in August.
Tune In … FOX Sports’ coverage of the first elimination race of the Gander Trucks Playoffs begins on Friday evening with qualifying at 5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. FS1’s coverage of the World of Westgate 200 begins at 8:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR Raceday followed by the green flag at 9:00 p.m. ET. To stay updated with Hill and the No. 16 team, follow @Hattori_Racing on Twitter, @hattoriracing on Instagram, and Hattori Racing Enterprises on Facebook.
Austin Hill Quote:
On entering the first elimination race of his first Gander Trucks Playoffs run:
“I’m excited. We’re bringing our Michigan truck and it’s 1-for-1 right now. So, I have all the confidence in the world in that truck we just built. You saw at Michigan, we had issues on pit road. We had stuff happen. We had to go to the back a few times and we kept driving back up to the front like it was nothing. That truck that they built is a hoss. It’s fast. I’m so stoked to get to Las Vegas. I feel like we have a shot at winning. I’ve always felt like we have a shot at winning any race that we go to with HRE. Especially with the new truck that we got, I’m pretty excited to go there. This is Gunma Toyopet’s first race on our truck program and we have a couple of their mechanics with us this week, so hopefully we can give them an awesome winning experience.”