Hill Holds Prime Playoff Position Entering DarlingtonSeptember 2, 2021
In Prime Position … The playoff points that Austin Hill earned over the first 15 races of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season has him in prime position to advance to round two of the playoffs. The driver of the No. 16 Ibaraki Toyopet Toyota Tundra was one of several championship contenders to face adversity in the opening playoff race at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWT Raceway), but holds an enviable 21-point cushion coming to Darlington Raceway. “The Lady in Black” has been circled on the team’s calendar as perfect opportunity to capitalize on previous performances. Hill led 11 laps at the storied South Carolina egg-shaped oval in May and finished third last September after challenging for the victory.
Regaining Momentum … The track “Too Tough To Tame” fits directly in line with Hill’s affinity for tracks with older, abrasive surfaces. He made his Darlington debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last September with a ninth-place finish and followed that up with a podium run in the Camping World Trucks’ return to the track last season. Of his eight career victories, four of them have occurred at tracks on similar pavement. After a 23rd-place finish at WWT Raceway, Darlington provides an antidote for Hill to regain the momentum he carried at the end of the regular season. The Winston, Ga. product won the final two events and scored four top-five finishes in the last five events entering the playoffs. Rekindling that performance would make Hill a primary contender to advance to round two.
Season to Date … After starting the season with two finishes outside the top-20, Hill has been a model of consistency and one of the premier Camping World Trucks performers. His two victories at Knoxville Raceway and Watkins Glen International marked the first back-to-back wins of his career and made him one of only four multi-race winners among full-time competitors. He has amassed seven top-five’s and 12 top-10’s in 16 races and has an average finish of 9.8. With two races remaining in round one of the playoffs, Hill sits sixth in the standings with a 21-point cushion over the cut line.
Chassis Selection … Crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the HRE squad have prepared chassis No. 007 for Sunday’s 200-mile event. The second race of the playoffs marks the first appearance for this Toyota Tundra at Darlington and is the team’s third different chassis selection in the last three trips to the “Lady in Black”. Hill captured a victory at Kansas Speedway last July in this Toyota Tundra and most recently finished fifth at Pocono Raceway in June.
Tune In … FOX Sports 1 will have live coverage from Darlington beginning with NASCAR Raceday at 1:00 p.m. ET followed by the green flag at 1:30 p.m. ET. Stay connected with the No. 16 Ibaraki Toyopet team by following @Hattori_Racing on Twitter, @hattoriracing on Instagram, and Hattori Racing Enterprises on Facebook.
Austin Hill Quote:
On returning to Darlington for the second appearance of the season:
“We’ve been really good at Darlington in both races since we’ve gone back there. I feel like that place almost owes us one. We had a great long run truck earlier this year and I think we were ones to beat until we got caught up in that big wreck on a restart. Scott (Zipadelli) and all the guys at HRE have focused on getting a little more short run speed in our Ibaraki Toyopet Toyota Tundra without giving up much on the back end. It’ll be a little different with the repaved section in Turn 2, but tire management is still going to be key, just like it always is at Darlington. I think if we can methodically get into the top two or three and make the right adjustments for the last run, we’ll have ourselves in a good spot for the win and hopefully advance on to the next round.”