A week ago, at Daytona International Speedway, Austin Hill captured his first-career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory in exhilarating fashion. He led a race-high 39 laps in his debut with Hattori Racing Enterprises en route to his landmark victory.
It was a statement made.
See, everyone bashed Hill and HRE this offseason for Hill taking the seat of the defending series champion Brett Moffitt. It seemed like greed. Hill, brought more money than Moffitt, so despite winning a championship and not having anything more he could have possibly accomplished, Moffitt was relieved of his duties with the team.
The new driver of the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra had made 51 NGOTS starts entering 2019 and had minimal success. Granted, he didn’t drive for a team that had a very large budget. To me, he actually showed me a lot with how well he competed in his previous stop.
Friday night, he capitalized on his first appearance with the defending series championship team. Hill’s trip to victory lane was the third-consecutive victory for HRE dating back to ISM Raceway on November 9th last season.
Now, Hill and the No. 16 team, led by crew chief Scott Zipadellli, will look to visit Atlanta Motor Speedway’s (AMS) victory lane for the second year in a row on Saturday evening.
“I never would have thought my first win would come at Daytona,” said Hill. “It finally started to sink in this week, and it’s a great feeling. Not only that we won, but we have a spot in the playoffs and the fact that Scott (Zipadelli) and the guys can get more aggressive throughout the season and we have the freedom to try things to win more races. I couldn’t think of a better place to come after our first win than Atlanta. Our United Rentals Tundra looks great and it’s a fast truck. These guys had a ton of success with this chassis last season and I’m excited to start practice to see what kind of speed we have this weekend.”
Hill, has even more motivation too this week as Atlanta is his home track. A native of Winston, GA, fresh off his first win, returns home to where his racing career began. The current NGOTS points leader began racing quarter midgets at age six in nearby Cumming, GA and turned countless laps on AMS’ quarter mile. Now, Hill’s career leads him back to his home turf on the strength of the biggest moment of his career and looks maintain his place atop the series standings.
Hill, has made three Truck Series starts in Atlanta before with his best finish coming in 2006 (12th).
The truck he’s driving on Saturday is a good one too.
Zipadelli and the No. 16 team are bringing a familiar Toyota Tundra to AMS. Chassis No. 007, the workhorse, will make its debut in 2019 on Saturday afternoon. This Tundra went to victory lane three times last season with Brett Moffitt at the controls, including at AMS last February, and sealed the championship with a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway