Toyota Racing NGROTS Post-Race Recap — Texas 10.25.20

Austin Hill extends his advantage over the Playoff cutoff with a runner-up finish

FORT WORTH (October 25, 2020) – Austin Hill (second) led Toyota with a runner-up finish in the 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Hill had a solid race throughout the day, scoring points in both stages. He heads into the final race in the Round of 8 at Martinsville with a 27-point advantage over the playoff cutoff. Hill was joined in the top-10 by Rookie of the Year contenders Raphaël Lessard (fourth) and Derek Kraus (ninth).

Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Texas Motor Speedway
Race 21 of 23 – 167 Laps, 250.5 Miles

American Muscle

1st, Sheldon Creed*
3rd, Zane Smith*
5th, Brett Moffitt*
*non-Toyota driver


AUSTIN HILL, No. 16 AISIN Group Toyota Tundra, Hattori Racing Enterprises
Finishing Position: 2nd

What was the difference at the end of the race as you were door-to-door with Sheldon Creed for the win?

“Just (Sheldon) Creed has teammates and I don’t is kind of what it came down to. The 23 (Brett Moffitt) just pushed him down the backstretch and pushed him to the lead. I got probably the best start you could possibly get. Was side-by-side with him right at the start-finish line. Didn’t have a ton of help from behind going into turn one, but I was able to stay on his outside off of two, which not a lot of people were able to do. I thought that I did everything right. It was just there at the end when the 23 sucked up to him and got to him and pushed him into three, he was able to clear me and after that, I’m wide open, but I couldn’t get to him. It was a solid day for our AISIN Toyota Tundra, but kind of stings a little bit knowing how good our truck was and we had to fight through some adversity, come from the back and do things like that and we still ended up with a P2 finish. Pretty good day for us, but still kind of stings a little bit.”

Did your points cushion play into the chances you were willing to take at the end of the race?

“Once it got to the end of the race and I was battling with the 2 (Sheldon Creed) trying to get the lead, all the points and everything else kind of went out the window. I was just focused on one thing and that was getting the win. I was going to do everything I could to try to get it done. I felt like I put a really good move on him, I faked low and I went to the high side. He drove to the bottom and got tight off of four and had to get out of it and then I kind of used the lapped truck as a pick and split them. The caution just came out at the wrong time for me. I knew it was going to be tough restarting on the outside lane. It seemed like a lot of guys on the outside lane were having trouble getting going. I thought I got through the gears good. Got down on his door really good and had a good run down the backstretch. There again, it just goes back to he had a teammate behind him that was able to push him and clear me. It was kind of all said and done after that. It was really hard to pass today with all the aero and everything else. Our AISIN Toyota Tundra was still really good. I thought we had a truck that could win. It just didn’t work out for us.”

Are you concerned about getting caught up in someone else’s retaliation at Martinsville?

“I know a lot of people are angry at each other so that’s something that I’m definitely going to look for going into Martinsville. Martinsville is definitely the type of place where if you want to retaliate, that’s probably the place to do it. I think it’s going to be an interesting race. You have to kind of go back and watch this race and see what guys might be mad at the other guy and just try to be as cautious as you can around them. At the same time, you don’t want to give up any positioning because that could kind of hurt your chances at making it to the championship round final four. You kind of try to balance that as much as you can. We actually had talks on the radio today racing around a few guys that we knew had to win to get in and we raced them hard, but we tried to give them a little bit of room just in case they were trying to drive a little over their head and make things happen that wasn’t going to happen. We just drove a smart race today and we have a new package going into Martinsville that I think we’re going to be pretty decent with, btu time will tell when we get there. Hopefully we can go get the job done and get into the final four in Phoenix.”

How comfortable are you with your points position heading into Martinsville?

“I don’t think you can every be very comfortable when you’re going into a place like Martinsville. It’s just one of those places that anything can happen. You can very easily get caught up in somebody else’s mess. That’s kind of one thing that happened to us last year. We were minding our own business running inside the top-five for most of the day and next thing you know, they start wrecking up front and we just got into somebody else’s mess. You go out there, run your own race – I wish I could be sitting here talking to you guys in victory lane, especially after everything we went through to get to where we were at and to finish second was great. Really wanted to get a win for everybody at Toyota and Tundra. Being built here in Texas, I really wanted to get the job done for these guys just because they’re built exclusively in Texas and it would have looked really nice to have a Toyota Tundra sitting in victory lane and us not have to worry about Martinsville. Like I said, the points side of it, it’s nice having those points stacked up and to have a cushion, but we really have to get through the first two stages and try to get as many points as we can and then we can sit back and look at it and see what kind of cushion we have after the first two stages. If we have a really good cushion, we’ll just try to make it to the end of the race. Then at the end, we’ll go for the win. It all depends on how the first two stages of Martinsville goes.”

RAPHAËL LESSARD, No. 4 CANAC Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 4th

Battled back from adveristy all the way to the top-five today. How was your race?

“It was pretty crazy. We started 20th. It was really hard back there to pass. The truck handled good in dirty air like that but we made up some ground. We were pretty good. We were up to 17th, and then we got up to about 15th and my throttle was almost sticking to the floor. It was really weird. It wouldn’t come baack like normal, so we had to come in and get it fixed. We had to start last because we pitted twice. We came from the back. I stayed patient. My Toyota Tundra was pretty good the whole race. We made some good adjustments and at the end I think I found something and I was able to make moves and at least be as fast as the leader. The last restart I had the perfect jump and I just can’t thank everyone at TRD, CANAC, Toyota. The Toyota Tundra is built right in Texas, so that’s pretty special to get them a top-five, and hopefully we can do it again next week in Martinsville.”

DEREK KRAUS, No. 19 SHOCKWAVE/ENEOS Toyota Tundra, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing
Finishing Position: 9th

Another top-10 finish for you Derek. How was your race as a whole?

“We started off really strong, and just battled for track position all day. It’s really tough to pass when there’s the PJ1 or VHT or whatever you want to call it on the racetrack. It’s really tough to pass; you try to stay up front. We kind of fell back a bit and were crawling trying to make our way back to the front on these restarts. Our SHOCKWAVE Toyota is clean, and overall, it was a good day.”

Next week, we head back to Martinsville. What are you looking forward to getting back there?

“Just going back to a short track. Really looking forward to going back to a short track. That’s what I grew up racing, so being able to go back to a short track with the truck – it’s pretty much all driver, so if your truck is handling well there is no air to deal with. I really enjoy going to the short tracks.”

CHRISTIAN ECKES, No. 18 Safelite Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 25th

How was your Tundra today before the incident and are you okay after a really big hit?

“We had a really fast Safelite Tundra really all day. Super proud of my guys for bringing me a fast and safe Toyota and now we’ll move on to Martinsville. That was a pretty big hit and I’m okay. Just ready to get to Martinsville.”

From your view, what happened between yourelf and Ben Rhodes?

“It started with just hard racing and we’ve had this problem before. I’ve raced him (Ben Rhodes) hard, but I race everybody hard and that’s what I’m here to do. We had a little bit of an incident at Las Vegas and all day today, he didn’t really give me much room. Every time we would race side-by-side, if you backed it up to the turn three entry even, he was laying on my quarter panel, which caused me to go up the race track. Sure, I was being aggressive and trying to clear him, but in the same aspect, it’s just hard racing on a one-groove race track. Then he got a little upset and we got straight down the straightaway and I was separated and had a run. Was going to probably clear him and he just turned left as hard as he could and hooked me. You could see that he turned left with the way the truck reacted after he turned me. Unfortuntately, it’s just the nature of the business.”

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