Quest Out West … Austin Hill enters the elimination race of the Round of 6 at ISM Raceway in control of his championship destiny. The driver of the No. 16 AISIN Group Toyota Tundra is on a quest out west to maintain his position in the top four of the Gander Trucks playoff standings. Hill rolls into Friday night’s contest in fourth position with a nine-point cushion over the provisional cut line. If Hill can deliver a second-consecutive Phoenix victory for HRE, he would automatically transfer to the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
All Out the Windshield … Despite a 26th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway after being swept up in an incident, Hill’s solid playoff record has him in an enviable position. On two occasions this season, Hill and the No. 16 team have responded with top-10 results after finishing outside the top-20 the race before. Hill notched a seventh-place finish at Dover International Speedway following mechanical issue at Texas Motor Speedway the week prior. Hill also earned his second victory at Michigan International Speedway following a clutch issue at Pocono Raceway. Regardless of circumstances, the No. 16 group led by crew chief Scott Zipadelli have consistently performed at a high level this season and look for another impactful response this weekend.
Phoenix History … Friday’s 150-lap conclusion to the Round of 6 will mark Hill’s third-career Gander Trucks start at ISM Raceway. The Winston, GA native suffered mechanical issues in both previous Phoenix appearances which kept him from reaching the checkered flag. He’ll look to tally his first top-five finish at the one-mile tri-oval at the most opportune time of the season.
Season to Date … Hill currently holds the fourth and final position to the championship finale and will need to hold on to some, or all of his nine-point advantage to transfer into the championship round in his first playoff appearance. The 25-year old has three victories this season, along with two pole awards and six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.
Chassis Selection … Zipadelli and the AISIN Group team prepared chassis No. 007 out of HRE’s stable for the tour’s lone visit to the Arizona desert. This Toyota Tundra has carried the majority of the workload for the No. 16 team over the last two years but will make its first appearance at a one-mile track this week. Most recently, Hill won the pole with a new track record in chassis 007 at Pocono Raceway in July.
Tune In … FOX Sports’ coverage from ISM Raceway begins with Gander Trucks qualifying at 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday afternoon on FOX Sports 1. The green flag will follow later that evening at 8:30 p.m. ET, also on FS1. Stay updated with Hill and the No. 16 team by following @Hattori_Racing on Twitter, @hattoriracing on Instagram, and Hattori Racing Enterprises on Facebook.
Austin Hill Quote:
On his outlook to transfer into the championship finale:
“We’ve had a great season so far, and our number one goal is right in front of us. I’m really looking forward to getting to Phoenix and the chance to lock ourselves into Homestead. This is a great race team, and we have a great opportunity in front of us. Big thanks to AISIN Group for coming on board this weekend. We went to victory lane the last time they were with us at Michigan, so hopefully we can do it again for them. Phoenix is a really short race. 150 laps will go by quick. We have a little bit of a cushion, but it’s not much, so we’re going to be aggressive to get stage points and make sure we put ourselves in the best position we can. The best thing would to go out and win, which I know we have the ability to do. This whole race team works so hard and they deserve to have a shot at this championship.”