In an overtime restart, Austin Hill in No. 16 Hattori Racing Toyota was able to hold off Sheldon Creed and Tyler Dippel for his second win of the 2019 season.
“I definitely didn’t want to do a green-white-checkered; we were kind of close on fuel,” Hill told MRN Radio. “I got a really good push out the back by the 18 (Harrison Burton), kind of propelled us and put us out front, then I just started to throw blocks and luckily, they were racing two and three wide out back and kind of gave us a gap out front, we were able to keep that gap.”
“I thought the 2 (Sheldon Creed) was going to have a shot at it going into (Turn) 3, he got a really big run but we were able to protect that bottom because that’s the lane he was trying to go. Can’t thank Hino, AISIN enough for coming on board.”
It was the regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway for the Truck Series regulars. Drivers like Sheldon Creed, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland, Tyler Dippel, Gus Dean and Ben Rhodes had one more shot to make it into the Playoffs with a win.
Fan-favorite Ross Chastain sat on the pole in his No. 45 Niece Motorsports truck with Christian Eckes on the outside pole. Playoff potential Matt Crafton had issues with his clutch during qualifying and made an engine change to be the cautious side, therefore had to start in the back.
Stages were broken into 20/20/60 to make up the 100 lap race.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 20
Nothing major happened in Stage 1 to bring out the caution. However, Tyler Ankrum and Austin Wayne Self were posted for a start violation and both were black flagged and had to serve a pass-through penalty.
Norm Benning never had the chance to get his truck started when the command to Start Your Engines was issued. Benning unfortunately had to sit out for the rest of the race, not completing a single lap and wound up 32nd.
Chastain went on to lead every lap in Stage 1 to take the stage win. Ben Rhodes, Eckes, Bret Moffitt, Todd Gilliland, Grant Enfinger, Austin Hill, Harrison Burton, Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-10 finishers in the first stage.
With his consistency throughout the season, Enfinger was able to lock up the regular-season title by just starting the race.
A melee broke out on pit road during the stage break. The No. 9 of Codie Rohrbaugh was trying to pull into his pit for a scheduled pit stop but made contact with Chastain and Sauter who were trying to pull out at the same time. Chastain suffered major damage from the incident and would wind up not finishing the race.
Gilliland was sent to the rear for a crew member over the wall too soon. Wayne Self was also sent to the rear for passing on the left on pit road.
Stage 2: Lap 27- Lap 40
Only one incident brought out the caution during the second stage on Lap 32 as Christian Eckes spun off Turn 2 due to a flat tire. This would be the only caution during Stage 2.
With Chastain out of the race, Moffitt played pit strategy by staying out and taking the lead going into Turn 1 with three laps to go. Moffitt hung on to win Stage 2.
Hill, Enfinger, Jordan Anderson, Rhodes, Self, Dean, Gilliland, Creed and Bayley Currey rounded out the top-10 finishers for the second stage.
There were no incidents during the stage break on pit road.
Stage 3: Lap 47- Lap 105
There were a few laps of green flag racing before the caution flew once again on Lap 56. This time it was the No. 04 of Cory Roper who slapped the Turn 2 wall and suffered right rear damage. Roper would eventually be out of the race with a broken track bar. He finished a disappointing 28th. TJ Bell who was driving the No. 38 Niece Motorsports truck was also out for the rest of the day due to a mechanical issue. Hill was sent to the rear for speeding on pit road.
Moffitt and Self stayed out under caution to assume the lead. However, neither could make it on fuel and would be six laps short to finish if the race remained green the rest of the way. But, another caution broke out on Lap 65 for Rohrbaugh, who spun off the exit of Turn 4. This saw race leaders Moffitt and Self pit under caution with Sauter also making a pit stop.
The race had a short green flag run until 15 laps to go when Eckes found trouble once again with a right rear flat that went down causing him to spin out. During the green flag run, Rhodes suffered a flat tire, ending any chance to compete for the championship.
The restart came with 10 laps to go and it was crunch time for many drivers who needed a win and were close on fuel for the finish. Fortunately, some of those drivers caught a break with another caution flying again for Eckes with eight to go.
This set up a restart with four to go that saw Ankrum, Hill, Crafton and Moffitt in the top spots. When the restart came Crafton accidentally pushed Ankrum a little too hard which then sent him spinning in front of the field collecting Natalie Decker, Alfredo and Sauter. The DGR-Crosley drivers had the most damage with Sauter able to pull away.
With the wreck, the race went into overtime with five extra laps added to the originally advertised distance. Despite the overtime finish and drivers like Dippel and Creed giving it one last shot, the Winston, Georgia native was able to hang on and win for the second time this season.
“Our Toyota Tundra was really fast today, Hill said.”We had to come from the back. I sped on pit road, had issues on getting the right front tire off all day long. We had to fight a lot of adversity. This is a brand new truck for us, to be able to go one for one with it, it’s an awesome way to start this truck off. With playoffs being next week, this gives us a confidence booster going forward.”
There were 11 lead changes among 17 lead changes with eight cautions for 35 laps.
- Brett Moffitt
- Grant Enfinger -3
- Stewart Friesen -8
- Ross Chastain -10
- Austin Hill -10
- Matt Crafton -11
- Johnny Sauter -13
- Tyler Ankrum -17
- Austin Hill
- Sheldon Creed
- Tyler Dippel
- Brett Moffitt
- Austin Wayne Self
- Bayley Currey
- Grant Enfinger
- Stewart Friesen
- Ray Ciccarelli
- Matt Crafton
- Harrison Burton
- Johnny Sauter
- Gus Dean
- Jordan Anderson
- Christian Eckes
- Trey Hutchens
- Codie Rohrbaugh
- Josh Reaume
- Jennifer Jo Cobb
- Joe Nemechek
- Jesse Iwuji
- Spencer Boyd
- Ben Rhodes, Two laps down
- Todd Gilliland, OUT, Crash
- Tyler Ankrum, OUT, Crash
- Anthony Alfredo, OUT, Crash
- Natalie Decker, OUT, Crash
- Cory Roper, OUT, Crash
- T.J. Bell, OUT, Clutch
- Ross Chastain, OUT, Crash
- Camden Murphy, OUT, Vibration
- Norm Benning, OUT, Engine
Up Next: The Round of Eight starts at Bristol Motor Speedway Thursday, August 15 live on Fox Sports 1.