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NASCAR Truck: Austin Hill wins attrition-filled season opener

during the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

By AMANDA VINCENT

Despite a driver change during the offseason, the No. 16 Hattori Racing team started 2019 where it left off in 2018, in victory lane. Austin Hill claimed his first-career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series win on Friday night in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. It was the second-consecutive win for Hattori, going back to the 2018 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I never would have thought in a million years I’d win at Daytona,” Hill said. “We’ve had some success at Dyatona before but just didn’t have the finishes we were looking for, there, at the end. We’d have something happen and to be able to come on board with Hattori Racing and start off the season like this, I think there’s going to be a lot of good things to come for us.”

Grant Enfinger recovered from being two laps down at one point in the race to finish in the second position. Meanwhile, Ross Chastain, Spencer Boyd and Matt Crafton finished in the top-five.

“I thought  that the 98 (Enfinger) was going to get me,” Hill said. “He had a big run. We were able to protect it. 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.”

The first Truck Series race of the season was lengthy and attrition-filled. The yellow flag waved 11 times in the race that was scheduled for 100 laps but was extended to 111 laps by the final two cautions that sent the race into two overtimes. Only nine trucks finished the race that saw an event-record number of cautions and was the longest race, distance-wise, in Truck Series history.

All trucks finishing the race were on the lead lap, including those of Josh Reaume, Timothy Peters, Angela Ruch and Austin Wayne Self, who finished sixth through ninth, respectively.

The eventual race winner led a race-high 39 laps, but he wasn’t up front for the first time until lap 62. Sheldon Creed and Johnny Sauter were up front at the end of each of the 20-lap stages that made up the first 40 laps of the race.

Creeed won stage one after taking the lead from pole sitter Christian Eckes on the second lap and running up front the remaining distance of the stage.

Sauter, then, got up front through the pit strategy of pitting on lap 7, during the first caution of the race and, then, staying out at the end of the opening stage. He and Brett Moffitt combined to lead most of stage two, with Sauter running up front for 10 of the 20 laps that comprised the stage.

The yellow flag waved one time in each of the opening two stages but waved often in the final 60-lap stanza of the race — two of those cautions coming for large, multi-truck wrecks. Sauter and Moffitt were among the more than 10 trucks involved in a wreck on lap 54. And Creed’s truck caught fire during another large crash on lap 99.

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Posted by on February 16, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR,NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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