Austin Hill beats Chastain for Las Vegas Truck win
Austin Hill’s late-season roll continued with his first win in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs.
Hill passed Ross Chastain with 11 of 134 laps remaining and held on for the win in Friday night’s Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his second win in the last four races.
The win is the third this season for Hill and third of his career. His first came in the season opener at Daytona.
“This win means the world to me,” Hill said. “We were going to stay out that last caution but everybody else pit so we thought we needed to pit or we’d be screwed. The race stayed green and we drove up through the field.
“This truck was unbelievable. My team gave me a heck of a piece tonight. We’re two-for-two now with this truck. It’s just amazing.”
Asked if he “made a statement” with his victory, Hill said: “Oh, for sure we made a statement. When I saw (Chastain) in my sights, we were running close to his lap times and I started to change my line a little bit.
“We picked up two or three tenths changing my line. We drove by (Chastain) like he was sitting still and just kept pulling. I was crossing my fingers every lap after we took the lead.”
With the win, Hill locked himself into the next round of the playoffs, where he will be joined by Chastain, Brett Moffitt, Tyler Ankrum, Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton.
Grant Enfinger and Johnny Sauter – who both retired early from the race with engine issues – were eliminated from further championship contention.
Christian Eckes finished third in the race, Sheldon Creed fourth and Todd Gilliland completed the top-five.
With 35 laps remaining, Chastain maintained a small but steady lead over Moffitt as Creed moved up to third. Eckes was fourth and Ben Rhodes ran fifth.
Chastain was able to expand his lead to more than 1.4 seconds over Hill with 25 laps to go as Eckes moved up to third.
With 12 to go, Hill had caught Chastain and the two raced side-by-side until Hill finally cleared him for the top spot with 11 laps left.
Chastain held off Hill to claim the Stage 2 win as he’s won five of the last eight stages in the Truck series.
Moffitt finished third, Rhodes fourth and Brennan Poole rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all of the lead-lap trucks elected to pit with Hill the first off pit road and led the way on the restart on Lap 37. He was followed by Harrison Burton and Chastain.
On Lap 39, first Sauter and then ThorSport Racing teammate Crafton both appeared to develop engines issues. Crafton said he thought first Sauter and then himself ran over something on the track.
The race returned to green on Lap 46 with Hill out front followed by Chastain and Moffitt.
Following a side-by-side battle between Chastain and Hill, Moffitt gave Chastain a push past Hill and into the lead on Lap 51 as Moffitt moved into second and Hill dropped to third.
With five laps remaining in the stage, Chastain held a small lead over Moffitt with Hill in third. One lap later, Hill got around Moffitt to retake the second spot.
Chastain held off Crafton to take the Stage 1 win, his sixth stage victory of the 2019 season.
Hill was third, Sauter fourth and Todd Gilliland ended up fifth.
Eckes started from the pole but Chastain got around him to take the lead on Lap 4.
On Lap 5, Enfinger’s engine appeared to let go on the frontstretch to bring out the race’s first caution. The team later said he had rear main seal failure on his No. 98 Ford.
“It’s a shame our season’s hopes came down to quality control and a spec part that we had nothing to do with,” Enfinger said.
When the race restarted on Lap 14, Chastain remained out front followed by Eckes and Crafton.
Hill got around Chastain to take the lead on Lap 17 for the first time in the race. Two laps later, Chastain returned the favor and returned to the top spot as Hill dropped to third.
With 10 laps to go in the stage, Chastain maintained a small lead over Crafton while Hill ran in third.
After 25 laps, Chastain still led Crafton and Hill as Sauter made his way up to the fourth position and into the contention for the lead.
Before the race, several drivers had to start from the rear of the field, including Codie Rohrbaugh (engine change), Gus Dean (unapproved adjustments), Moffitt (tire change) and Justin Johnson (driver change).
|15||12||Gus Dean||Chevrolet||133||1 lap|
|16||9||Codie Rohrbaugh||Chevrolet||133||1 lap|
|17||22||Austin Wayne Self||Chevrolet||133||1 lap|
|18||11||Spencer Davis||Toyota||133||1 lap|
|19||52||Stewart Friesen||Chevrolet||132||2 laps|
|20||20||Spencer Boyd||Chevrolet||132||2 laps||1|
|21||38||Colin Garrett||Chevrolet||131||3 laps|
|22||44||Angela Ruch||Chevrolet||131||3 laps|
|23||34||Jesse Iwuji||Chevrolet||127||7 laps|
|24||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Chevrolet||90||44 laps|
|25||54||Natalie Decker||Toyota||87||47 laps|
|26||02||Tyler Dippel||Chevrolet||80||54 laps|
|27||19||Derek Kraus||Toyota||77||57 laps|
|28||33||Mason Massey||Chevrolet||63||71 laps|
|29||13||Johnny Sauter||Ford||45||89 laps|
|30||88||Matt Crafton||Ford||39||95 laps|
|31||98||Grant Enfinger||Ford||6||128 laps|
|32||8||John Hunter Nemechek||Chevrolet||0||134 laps|
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