ASHLEY ASKS…… Austin Hill
With six top-10’s throughout 2018 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Austin Hill ended his first full campaign ranked 11th in the year-end standings. As the 24-year-old prepares for his second season, he reflected back on this past year for POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR SPEED: How would you rate your season?
AUSTIN HILL: It was good for Young’s Motorsports as a whole. There were definitely times we felt we could’ve ran top-five a lot more times than we did. That’s one thing that we look back on and a few races we picked out we should’ve ran top-five but just circumstances, whether a bad stop on pit road or are on the race track, caused us not to come away with those better finishes. Young’s Motorsports as a whole, I felt, showed speed throughout the whole year.
When they changed the splitter rules after the second or third mile-and-a-half, it threw us for a loop a little bit. We were kind of behind. The bigger teams can react quicker than the smaller teams can. We made the change and started struggling for four or five races. We kind of got it back going and finished the year real strong. I was excited how it ended. I just wish Homestead could’ve ended a bit better. We just had stuff happen that there again shouldn’t happen and if that didn’t, we could’ve finished top-10. All in all, a good season for us.
PS: Going back to Texas, what did it mean for you and your team to get the top-five finish?
AUSTIN: It meant everything and it felt like a win for us because like I said, there were so many races we should’ve finished fifth to eighth place range and we just kept on stepping on our foot, whether errors on pit road or tire issue, that we should’ve been able to clean up over the year. I felt like pit road hurt us more than anything. Not trying to knock our guys, but pit road was a place we struggled. Anytime we came down pit road and had a good stop, you could really tell; that’s where our finishes would be top-10. Anytime we had one bad pit stop, and it always seemed like it was the last stop, it’s just so hard to come back from that. I feel if we didn’t struggle with all that, you would’ve seen Young’s Motorsports have more than one top-five.
But yes, getting that top-five at Texas was definitely a relief. We had a race where the truck was handling good, no issues on pit road, no issues on the track – just one of those clean races nothing bad or crazy happened. Our performance showed, and we had speed all day; it wasn’t like we gambled and got there. We ran top-five all day long and were able to capitalize with a top-five finish.
PS: What is one thing that you feel you and your team could have done even better to run stronger?
AUSTIN: I feel like I’d say the number one thing is getting our pit road pit stops down pat. It just seemed like we had whether slow stop or loose wheel, we had something that would happen. I don’t know how many times I heard uncontrolled tire. Those types of things happening – we could’ve definitely cleaned those up. That would’ve showed our team was capable of coming away with possibly – we were on the verge of making the Elite 8 in the playoffs. We would’ve been right there on the bubble. With all the issues we had, we were still 10th-place for the longest time in points. So I feel like that’s the number one thing.
Other than that, sponsorship money to do the wind tunnel time and seven-post time, all the things the big teams do that make your program that much better. You don’t understand how much going to the wind tunnel for three or four hours helps. We were able to do that a little bit, and honestly the last truck body we ran at Texas and Homestead, it didn’t even see the wind tunnel and it was good; it was one of our better trucks throughout the year. So yeah I mean there’s always places you can be better, but as far as the pit crew, we needed to tidy that up and our finishes would’ve definitely came.
PS: How are things looking for 2019 for you?
AUSTIN: I am actually going to be running the full season next year, but unfortunately will not be without Young’s Motorsports as we’re going a slightly different route in 2019. As far as details go, I am not supposed to be saying it for at least another week or so. But once the team I’m committed with and signed with comes out with their press release and talks about it and makes it public, then I’ll be able to talk about it. But as far as right now, they want me to keep it hush-hush. It’s definitely looking really good going full season in the truck season and I’m very excited about it.
PS: Look forward to hearing the news once released. How did you get started in racing?
AUSTIN: It was actually a funny story. Nobody in my family ever raced. I’m the first one that really started racing and got the family racing. When I was really young, three or four years old, I had only sat on the couch and watched the NASCAR races. My dad was into it and he watched it; he didn’t every single Sunday but he watched it. So when I was very young and watched it with my dad, I thought it was the coolest thing, so it was actually a tradition every Sunday to sit down and watch the NASCAR race. From the time I was three to six, I didn’t miss a race unless we weren’t home for some reason. I was always sitting on the couch simply amazed by the racecars.
So when I was five years old, I started telling my parents over and over I wanted to race. So for my sixth birthday, they got me a quarter midget. So we started practicing down in Georgia and it went from there. My dad thought it was going to be a hobby together; he thought it’d be cool to do and it turned out to be something we both loved and enjoyed. We worked our way through the ranks and have gotten to the truck series. We definitely want to go past the truck series, but the way sponsorship has worked out, we haven’t been able to yet. We’re hoping after the 2019 season we’re able to get on the map a little more and get sponsors interested to move up even more.
PS: What would it mean to get up to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series one day?
AUSTIN: That’s always been the dream since I was three years old and saw racecars for the first time. I always wanted to be like Jeff Gordon and those guys. To reach the Cup level is a dream of mine and something I’d like to fulfill one day as long as we can get everything in line and be with a pretty good team. I’m just one of those drivers that wants to be in pretty good equipment that can run top-15, top-10, and eventually equipment that can run top-five and win races.
If the opportunity presented itself just to get experience, man, I’d love to run some Cup stuff, even if just five to eight races in 2019 or 2020. I’d love to just get my feet wet and see what it’s like to run a whole 500 mile race; I think that’s something I’d cherish. It’s definitely my goal to go Cup racing someday; we just have to make it happen.
PS: Who is your racing hero?
AUSTIN: Jeff Gordon. He’s always been my idol since I was three years old. My dad always liked him so I guess that was trend – he liked him so I liked him. Growing up, I thought he was amazing and one of the best to this day. It was also cool when I got to the K&N Series and at the track, I was able to speak to him numerous times and he has so much knowledge about racing that’ll help down the road. He is down to earth and he will answer any question you have and he’s definitely one to look up to.
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