Hill Clinches Playoff Berth with Top-Five at PoconoJune 26, 2021
Austin Hill clinched his spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs with a fifth-place finish on Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. The driver of the No. 16 Toyota Tsusho Toyota Tundra banked his fifth top-five finish of the season, tied for the second-most points scored of all drivers in the event and secured his third-career playoff berth.
The Winston, Ga. native started from fourth position by virtue of the performance matrix starting lineup and held serve inside the top-10 for the opening 15-lap stage. A caution on the initial green flag set up an abbreviated 11-lap run to the Stage 1 green checkered flag. Hill fought through a significant front chatter on exit of all three corners which also created splitter contact on the nose. Despite the lack of front grip, Hill held the eighth position to score three points at the end of Stage 1 on lap 15.
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli and the Toyota Tsusho team brought Hill to pit road under the stage caution for four tires, fuel, and a significant track bar adjustment. As the field split in half on pit strategy, Hill lined up 24th on the lap 20 restart with only 11 laps to the Stage 2 checkers. His aggression was on full display as he gained 10 positions on the restart. Many of the front-running trucks began to pit just shy of the Stage 2 finish on lap 27 and allowed Hill to leapfrog several positions into the top-10. Zipadelli kept Hill on track for the balance of Stage 2, which netted the No. 16 team a fourth-place finish on lap 30 to earn seven points.
Hill made his final pit stop for four tires, fuel, and minor air pressure changes under the subsequent stage caution. As various pit strategies unfolded under the yellow flag, the Toyota Tsusho team’s quick pit work allowed Hill to restart 12th on lap 36 in the preferred outside lane. Once again, Hill put on a clinic on the restart, disposing of four competitors on the opening lap to claim the eighth position. A caution on lap 51 set up a six-lap dash to the checkered flag which saw Hill grab the fifth position on the lap 55 restart. Hill maintained his fifth position to the checkered flag and officially solidified his team’s place in the playoff chase.
Austin Hill Quote:
“Our truck was on the splitter a little bit to start out and we fell back a bit during the first stage. We worked on it pretty good. Scott (Zipadelli) made some pretty good adjustments to make it a lot better than it was. This race is just so short, you just can’t really do a whole lot throughout the race and if you lose track position, it’s hard to get it back. I thought we had a top-five Toyota Tundra. I don’t know if we could have won the race. I felt like once you got single-filled out, it was just kind of follow the leader. The guy in front of you kind of had to mess up off the corner and you had to get a run on him to get by him. It seemed like as people got two-wide down the straightaway, then the guy behind you could suck up and you could go three-wide and clear him before you got to the corner, so it was kind of a frustrating race, how it unfolded, but it’s good to come out of here with a top-five with our Toyota Tsusho Tundra.”