It took four overtime attempts, but Austin Hill was victorious in Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on the dirt at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.
Hill had already clinched a Truck playoff spot on points, but now has his first win of the season.
“Track position was huge and it was really hard to get around people,” Hill told FS1 after the race. “You had to kind of rough them up to get around them. I just kept my head down. This team and everybody at HRE (Hattori Racing Enterprises), they never quit and that’s the thing I love about this group. We don’t stop, we don’t quit – even when we think we’re down and out, we just keep coming back.
“If you would have told me that we would win a dirt race this year, I would have told you that you were lying.”
The overtime period began with the night’s biggest incident – a Talladega-style “Big One” that swept into Turn 1 and involved 16 Trucks. Cup full-timer Chase Briscoe, sprint car legend Donny Schatz, and reigning Truck champion Sheldon Creed were among those eliminated in the incident.
Two more crashes ended the second and third overtime attempt. But just before the caution came out on the third attempt, Hill was credited with being ahead of Chandler Smith for the lead.
That gave Hill the all-important inside lane on the final restart. Hill made it count and quickly pulled away before beating Smith to the checkered flag by 1.2 seconds.
In all, the caution flag flew nine times in the final 89 laps (60 laps in the final stage and 29 laps of overtime), giving a disjointed finish to the inaugural Truck race at the “Sprint Car Capital of the World.”
Stewart and Jessica Friesen became the first husband-wife duo to compete in the same NASCAR national series race since Elton Sawyer and Patty Moise in an 1998 Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But the couple, well-versed in dirt track racing, had mixed fortunes. Both drivers were involved in at least two incidents. Jessica wound up finishing 26th, Stewart 27th.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chandler Smith lost out after leading a race-high 71 laps, but still increased his lead for the final Truck playoff spot to 40 points … Ben Rhodes recovered from a black flag for damage repair to finish seventh … Top sprint car driver Brian Brown finished eighth for Kyle Busch Motorsports in his Truck debut.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: 12 drivers – over a quarter of the field – were eliminated during the night.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Derek Kraus
STAGE 2 WINNER: Derek Kraus
NOTABLE: USAC star Chris Windom replaced Xfinity Series full-timer Michael Annett in the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet. A reason was not disclosed by the team, but considering Friday’s iffy weather forecast for Knoxville, any delay may have impacted Annett’s Xfinity duties Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Windom rallied from a flat tire with less than 20 laps left in scheduled distance to finish 15th.
NEXT: Saturday, Aug. 7 – Watkins Glen International (regular season finale; 12:30 p.m. ET, FS1)