In a historic doubleheader weekend at Kansas Speedway, Austin Hill and his No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises team grabbed the checkered flag after leading a race-high 65 laps. The Georgian led the last 39 laps en route to his first win of the 2020 Truck Series season.
“This is awesome and we’ve been working so hard for this,” Hill said. “Last week was a bummer having engine troubles and I told the guys before coming here, let’s go finish three spots better and I’ll be dang if we didn’t do it. Can’t thank everybody enough at HRE, Scott (Zipadelli, crew chief) and the guys, they work their tails off week in and week out. First win with the United Rentals paint scheme and that’s awesome, they’ve been a tremendous partner for me throughout my career. I’ve been wanting to get a win with these colors on and I’m so glad I was able to do it. That last pit stop, I tried to brake check a little bit and got out in fourth because I wanted to be in the high lane. I got tagged from behind, that was my fault and I apologize to Brett (Moffitt) when he hit me. I had it for Scott and the guys, they now have to replace the bumper to get ready for tomorrow. But I think the win was worth it.”
Stages consisting of 30, 30 and 74 laps made up the 134-lap event, which is shorter than last year’s event by about 33 laps. Christian Eckes was on the pole via a random draw based on owner points.
Stage 1: Lap 1 – Lap 30
Early on in the going Brett Moffitt and Todd Gilliland both led laps before Moffitt broke away from the battle. However, the first caution of the night flew on Lap 18 when Robby Lyons spun off Turn 4. Just before the yellow, Tyler Ankrum in the No. 26 experienced trouble with his brakes. Ankrum would return to the race, albeit 22 laps down, but eventually finished 33rd in the running order.
A restart came on Lap 23 with about eight to go in the first stage. Despite early battles and a couple of cautions, Moffitt held on to win the first stage. Hill, Ross Chastain, Gilliland, Matt Crafton, Derek Kraus, Eckes, Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes and Sheldon Creed were the top 10 finishers.
Stage 2: Lap 36- Lap 60
Just 25 laps would make up the second stage and it was caution-free. There were, however, multiple battles for position including a close moment between Crafton and Kraus off Turn 2 at Lap 39.
The lead swapped three times between Rhodes, Eckes, and Hill throughout the 25 lapper in Stage 2. Hill would eventually maintain the lead on Lap 41 and led for 23 laps. Right around 10 to go, Stewart Friesen, in his No. 52 Halmar Racing Toyota, had a right-rear tire go down which forced him to make a pit stop. Unfortunately, Friesen’s night continued to get worse and he would wind up placing in the 27th position.
When the green-checkered flew on Lap 60, it was Hill in the No. 16 who got the stage victory. Rhodes, Smith, Majeski, Kraus, Eckes, Chastain, Creed, Jones, and Moffitt wrapped up the top 10.
Stage 3: Lap 66 – Lap 134
Stage 3 provided a little more action than the first two stages.
With 53 to go, Korbin Forrister in the No. 7 machine, wrecked off Turn 4 slowing the field for the fourth and what would be the final time of the night. As the caution flew, this allowed race teams to take advantage of strategy as they chose to come down pit road for fresh tires. However, Gilliland who had a great run early got busted on pit road for an uncontrolled tire resulting in a penalty and was sent to the rear for the restart.
The restart came with 48 to go and once the field got going again, a great battle for the lead was seen. Moffitt, Hill, Crafton, and the No. 98 of Enfinger challenged for the top spot. During that initial battle, Chastain experienced difficulty with a flat right rear tire. The troubles continued to get worse for the No. 40 Niece Motorsports entry as Chastain pulled the truck behind the wall.
Out of the four drivers that swapped the lead, Moffitt led four laps and Crafton only one, but ultimately it was Hill that checked out on Lap 96. And just like Atlanta, Hill hoped there would not be any cautions late in the going. But a close moment between Spencer Davis and Jordan Anderson came with five to go when the two collided off Turn 4. Fortunately for Hill, the yellow would not fly and he could keep his three-second lead over second-place Moffitt.
In the end, Hill proved unbeatable as he piloted the No. 16 Toyota to victory lane for the first time this year and the fifth time of his career.
“Really, those last 20 laps felt like they went on forever,” Hill said about the last closing laps. “I started thinking, what am I going to do when a caution comes out. Am I going to choose the outside or inside lane and how hard do I drive it into the corner on old tires, just a lot of things were going through my head. I’m glad we didn’t have to do a green-white-checkered and finish it just ended like it did. The United Rentals Toyota Tundra was really fast tonight. We do have some work for tomorrow. It felt like on the long run we were just way too free. I had to really pedal it through the corner, but were good enough tonight.”
The victory snapped a six month winless streak for Hill and company. Hill led four times for 65 laps and picked up six playoff points.
There were four cautions for 19 laps and 17 lead changes among eight different leaders.
- Austin Hill, won Stage 2, led 65 laps
- Brett Moffitt, won Stage 1, led 21 laps
- Grant Enfinger
- Matt Crafton, led two laps
- Derek Kraus
- Zane Smith, led 17 laps
- Ben Rhodes, led three laps
- Sheldon Creed
- Johnny Sauter
- Todd Gilliland
- Ty Majeski
- Brennan Poole
- Christian Eckes
- Brandon Jones
- Chase Purdy
- Raphael Lessard
- Austin Wayne Self
- Tanner Gray
- Timmy Hill, 1 lap down
- Cory Roper, 1 lap down
- Natalie Decker, 1 lap down
- Tate Fogleman, 1 lap down
- Spencer Boyd, 1 lap down
- Codie Rohrbaugh, 1 lap down
- Dawson Cram, 1 lap down
- Robby Lyons, 2 laps down
- Stewart Friesen, 2 laps down
- Clay Greenfield, 2 laps down
- Spencer Davis, OUT, Damage Vehicle Policy
- Jordan Anderson, 5 laps down
- Jennifer Jo Cobb, 6 laps down
- Ray Ciccarelli, 13 laps down
- Tyler Ankrum, 22 laps down
- Ross Chastain, OUT, Brakes
- Korbin Forrister, OUT, Crash
- Norm Benning, OUT, Handling
- Bryan Dauzat, OUT, Damage Vehicle Policy
- Kevin Donahue, OUT, Power Steering
Up Next: The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series stays at Kansas Speedway for race No. 2, with a green flag scheduled for 1:45 p.m./ET live on Fox Sports 1.