By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
An ill-timed pit road speeding penalty forced Austin Hill to climb through the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series field to finish seventh.
With 45 laps to go, Hill’s No. 16 Toyota Racing Development Toyota Tundra was penalized for speeding entering the pits. He dropped to the tail-end of the lead lap, 20th. A caution on the restart helped Hill jump up several positions.
Over the final laps, Hill picked off positions one by one with the help of lapped traffic. His loose truck hindered his recovery in the JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway. When the checkered flag waved, Hill was seventh.
“We were just too loose all day,” Hill explained. “I thought as the rubber got put on it would tighten up, so the first pit stop we did not make that many adjustments. As the run went, the track just got looser and looser and we just didn’t keep up with it very well.
“We took a big swing at it after the second stage was over and it put a dent in it. Whenever we had that caution after the long green flag run, we pitted and made a big swing at it. When we pitted that time, I sped on pit road. I have to go back and think about it. I didn’t think I sped. I was right on my lights. I guess it could have bumped up there a little bit right there.”
Hill, who started 12th, ran inside the top-10 throughout much of the 200-mile race. Stage finishes of seventh and fifth show a return to form for Hattori Racing Enterprises after three consecutive finishes outside the top-15.
Lapped traffic proved to be a big factor throughout the race. Hill found himself three-wide with Ben Rhodes and Ross Chastain at one point when the trio caught slower, double-file lapped traffic. Luckily, the three top-10 finishers avoided contact with each other and the lapped trucks.
The seventh-place finish is the third top-10 for Hill this season and 11th of his career. He is now 49-points behind championship points leader Stewart Friesen. Hill, who won the season opener, is one of two drivers locked into the playoffs along with race-winner Johnny Sauter.