It took a crash-filled 111 laps, two overtime restarts and holding off a hard charge from Grant Enfinger on the final lap, but Austin Hill is now a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series winner.
Hill took victory in the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway in his first race with 2018 championship-winning team Hattori Racing. Leading for 39 laps, Hill used every bit of his No. 16 Toyota to block Enfinger coming to the checkered flag.
“This truck was fast, it really was,” Hill told FS1 in Victory Lane. “I knew we had a truck that could compete. … I can’t believe that my first win came at Daytona. It’s so surreal and I can’t wait to party with these guys.”
Enfinger second-place result is the highest of his Truck Series career at Daytona, while Ross Chastain, Spencer Boyd and Matt Crafton competed the top-five finishers.
The second attempt at NASCAR Overtime was set up after a big crash with three laps to go brought out the 10th caution of the race. ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes held the race lead when he went to block Hill on the backstretch. The moved slowed both trucks, stacking up the field behind them. Gus Dean attempted to pass Rhodes but collided with Sheldon Creed while moving to the outside lane, sending Dean spinning into Rhodes’ back bumper. The incident collected a total of 10 cars, leaving Hill with the race lead.
Timothy Peters and Clay Greenfield collided following the first go at an Overtime finish.
It was an overall battle of attrition in the season-opening event. A crash with 12 laps remaining also took Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton out of contention after colliding on the backstretch.
In her Truck Series debut, Natalie Decker cut a left-front tire on Lap 2, severing a brake line as her No. 54 DGR Crosley Toyota truck caught fire as she attempted to drive back to her pit stall. Decker was able to escape the fiery scene unharmed with swift assistance from a crew member.
Decker’s teammate and team owner, David Gilliland, also cut a tire on his No. 17 Toyota truck on the same lap as the caution flew for fluid on the track from Decker’s machine. Gilliland was able to continue to finish 13th after starting second.
Later in the race, a number of top favorites were involved in an 11-car crash on Lap 53. The wreck was triggered after Jordan Anderson and Sheldon Creed made contact at the exit of Turn 4, sending Anderson hard into the outside wall.
A host of other drivers had no real estate to evade the incident and collected varying degrees of damage, including pole-sitter Christian Eckes, defending champion Brett Moffitt, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Brennan Poole, Johnny Sauter, Austin Wayne Self, Myatt Snider and Dean.
Creed earned 10 points with a Stage 1 victory in his first full-time Truck Series season, while Sauter finished first in Stage 2.
Another scary moment occurred in the Lap 2 caution period involving Billy Rock, jackman on the No. 28 FDNY Racing team of Bryan Dauzat. Rock jumped over the wall to service Dauzat’s damaged truck after crashing in a separate incident, but the truck was unable to stop due to a brake failure and he was struck in the pit stall.
The crewmember was awake and alert during a trip to the infield care center and was transported to nearby Halifax Health Medical Center for further evaluation.