Hill Salvages 13th After Darlington ChaosMay 8, 2021
Austin Hill salvaged a 13th-place result after being collected in a multi-truck incident in the late stages at Darlington Raceway on Friday night after leading 11 laps. The driver of the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra managed to save 12 points over the final 29 laps after feverish repairs and scored the ninth-most points of all competitors at the track "Too Tough to Tame".
Hill started the night strong after taking the green flag from the outside of the front row. On lap 7, he took advantage of lapped traffic to assume the lead until a competition caution on lap 16. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli bolted on four new tires on Hill’s Tundra under the caution and allowed him to restart fifth on lap 22. A sequence of two yellows during the balance of Stage 1 would foreshadow the remainder of the event, while Hill navigated heated restarts to collect seven points in fourth position on lap 45.
As varying tire strategies unfolded, Hill restarted 11th at the beginning of Stage 2 on lap 53. He methodically picked his way through traffic and drove up to sixth by lap 80 before a caution on lap 81. Another split decision on tire strategy jumbled the field for a two-lap dash to the end of Stage 2. Hill restarted 10th on lap 89 and collected two points in ninth when the green checkered flag flew on lap 90.
Hill put himself back into legitimate contention on lap 107 by utilizing the high line on a restart. The Winston, Ga. product chose the top line and immediately rocketed from sixth to second in less than two laps and had the leader in his cross hairs. However, a caution on lap 111 would set up a fury of carnage on the ensuing restart. Hill chose to restart in the preferred outside groove in fourth position behind the race leader but was collected in a 17-truck accident when the two trucks on the front row made contact. Hill’s United Rentals Tundra suffered significant damage to the nose, sides, and tail but Zipadelli and the HRE team displayed their mettle to salvage precious points.
After being scored as low as 25th one lap down, the No. 16 team continued their relentless resolve and used multiple cautions to their advantage. A caution on lap 132 allowed Hill to regain status on the lead lap and capitalized on two late restarts. Despite wrestling a significantly damaged Tundra, Hill muscled his No. 16 from 21st over the final eight circuits to take the checkered flag in 13th position.
Austin Hill Quote:
“We had such a fast United Rentals Toyota Tundra tonight. We lost some track position in the middle of the race with some guys doing different tire strategies and that seemed to bottle up a lot of the restarts. We finally got in the right lane on a couple of those restarts in the final stage and got back up to fight for the lead. Had it stayed green, I think we had the truck to beat for the win. We just got collected in that huge wreck on a restart, but this race team has a ‘never give up’ attitude. We stuck with it, made enough repairs to keep decent speed, and were able to save a lot of points tonight.”