Toyota Racing – Austin Hill
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS)
Dover International Speedway – May 3, 2019
Hattori Racing Enterprises driver Austin Hill was made available to the media in Dover:
AUSTIN HILL, No. 16 TRD 40th Anniversary Toyota Tundra, Hattori Racing Enterprises
How challenging is Dover?
“This is my favorite race track by far that we go to all year. I’ve had a lot of success in the K&N Series – got two wins and was going to have three I felt like, but blew a motor the last time we ran here. Truck side of it, we’ve just had a lot of misfortunes happen. Last year I felt like we had a strong truck. We were running 10th and got taken out. Then the year before that, a lapped car wrecked right in front of us and we had nowhere to go. We’ve had speed in the past, just can’t get past lap 40 or 50. It’s a 200 lap race so we have to try to make it to the end. Felt like we had good speed yesterday. Once the rubber got laid down, it caused or it seemed like everybody really went to the tight side and our truck was really tight there at the end. I don’t really know what to tell you as far as our truck is going to handle. We have a little bit different weather conditions here today so that’s going to play a little bit of a factor. These HRE guys are so good at what they do, I think we’re going to be up front.”
What are the challenges of racing at Kansas?
“I’ve only had one start at Kansas and it was last year. I felt like we had a decent truck there. Kansas is a cool race track because you get to move around a little bit. I know there at the end of the race, the top-five were running right there against the fence. That was cool. We had good speed, we kind of played the fuel strategy deal and it kind of bit us there at the end. We were running third and ran out of fuel. I think we finished 12th or 13th since we ran out of fuel. I feel like this year, every race track we go to with HRE, we have a shot at winning. Every race track on the schedule is kind of marked and circled, but this one is probably circled three or four times because I love this track and I love being here. If we ran here six or seven times a year it wouldn’t bother me a bit.”
Tell us about the special paint scheme on your Tundra this weekend at Dover?
“We’ve got the TRD 40th anniversary paint scheme on there and it looks sweet too. I’d love to run it every weekend if we could. I think it’s the coolest paint scheme that we have all year so far. It’s really special to be able to have TRD on the truck and be able to celebrate it with these guys. Especially the first year running with Toyota – it’s really special to me to have them.”
What are some of the main things you have to pay attention to at Dover?
“Pitting under green is huge. It’s probably the hardest place to pit under green just because you’re in the center of the corner and you’re turning down onto the apron. It’s a really rough transition, but this track it can bite you at any second. You have to be up on the wheel every lap, every second. You can’t let it catch you off-guard because if you do, it’s going to be big.”
Why do you like Dover so much?
“I don’t know, just the first time I ever came here was in a K&N car and we won. I can’t tell you what it is about the track that I like, it’s just something that fits my driving style. I’ve always loved this place. We haven’t had great trucks here in the past so coming here with HRE and having the speed that we had yesterday, it’s just been a lot of fun here already. I can’t wait to get going in the race.”
Does liking the track make racing here more comfortable?
“You’re on edge, but if you can get the truck handling right, it actually slows the track down. You don’t feel like you’re going that fast when your truck is handling right. When your truck is loose or tight and you’re sawing on the wheel, it feels like you’re flying around the race track just because you’re holding on for dear life. When that thing is turning good and it goes over the hill and it lands good and you’re able to pick up the gas, it just feels like the whole track slows down.”
Is there a rhythm to getting around Dover?
“My mindset going into the weekend yesterday was just the first two or three laps, just attack the race track and see what it would give you and just be ready for it to step out or get tight or something to happen. I think the second lap on the race track was my fastest lap of the whole day. When you have a month off, that’s something that you have to do, you just have to man-up and just hope it sticks and as long as it does then you’re a hero. If it doesn’t stick then you better hold on. That’s just kind of the mindset that I have for this place. It’s a track that you can really attack and when you drive off into the corner and drive over that hill, you want to lift, but you have to have your mindset that I’m going to drive over this hill, let it land before I start to lift out of it and then roll back to it. As long as you drive over that hump, it’s normally going to be okay. You have a lot of race track if you get loose or get tight or whatever, you have a lot of race track to kind of save it and drive it up the race track. There’s marbles, but there’s not as many marbles as you see at other race tracks. You can drive up to the third or fourth lane and still save it. It’s not like you have one or two lanes where when you get up to that second or third lane, you start losing grip. You still have somewhat of grip.”
Can you assess your overall performance this season?
“We started off with a bang at Daytona. Atlanta was good, we were just one of the guys that restarted on the outside lane in Atlanta. It’s hard to restart on the outside lane so we ended up seventh and that was a decent day for us. The last three races we’ve had have been tough. In Vegas, we ran third and then we started overheating with a motor issue. Martinsville, we were going to run eighth or ninth and got booted out of the way, that’s just Martinsville, it’s just rough and we just had the bad end of the stick. We had speed and then Texas we were running fifth and had an overheating issue. We really have to get the overheating issues behind us. Over this month off has been good for us just because we’ve looked at a whole bunch of stuff. We’ve changed everything – the plumbing, the duct work – everything you can think of in the front that creates air to the engine, we’ve just changed a whole bunch of stuff to make sure that it’s nothing that’s happening on our part that we’re doing wrong. As far as just overall performance, we’ve had a lot of speed. Vegas and Texas, I felt like we had a shot of running with Kyle Busch. Not saying we could have beat him by no means, but we could have run with him. We just didn’t get to show that. I think restarting up in the front of the field has been different for me. I’ve been used to restarting 15th or so, 10th and when you’re restarting back there, the restart is totally different. When you’re restarting up front, you’re usually restarting in first gear instead of second gear. There’s just different things that I have to do as a driver to really stay closed in and locked in on that guy in front of me because when you get up into that top-five, six trucks, it’s so hard to make passes so you have to make all your passes on restarts for the most part. That’s one of the struggles I’ve been having this year and I don’t know if it’s just short run speed on just the whole team’s part or just me not getting up on the wheel good enough for the first three or four laps, but they’re been some promise where we’ve had some good restarts and we’ve gained two or three positions on restarts, but there’s also been restarts where we’ve lost three or four positions so we just have to get that bug worked out.”