NASCAR Truck Series

Austin Hill wins lightning-shortened United Rentals 176 to close Truck regular season

3 Mins read
Credit: Hattori Racing Enterprises

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season ended with a literal flash as lightning cut short Saturday’s United Rentals 176 at Watkins Glen International with twelve laps remaining. Austin Hill was the leader at the time of the delay, enabling him to score his second win of the year.

Hill started on the pole in the first Truck race at WGI since 2000, and he led the first four laps before Todd Gilliland took the spot. Gilliland, who won the most recent road race at COTA in May, would score the stage win ahead of Sheldon Creed, Derek Kraus, Josh Berry, Austin Wayne Self, A.J. Allmendinger, Paul Menard, Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes, and Ryan Truex. NASCAR newcomer Chad Chastain produced the lone caution of the stage when his truck stopped on lap seven.

The second stage ran green the entire distance as the lead was exchanged between Jack Wood, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith, John Hunter Nemechek, and Hill. Hill would take the stage win ahead of Nemechek, Allmendinger, Smith, Creed, Tyler Ankrum, Hocevar, Gilliland, Ben Rhodes, and Sam Mayer.

As Hill continued to lead, Nemechek and Creed ran behind him. After a caution on lap 53 for Kraus spinning after contact with Allmendinger in turn four, ending the former’s playoff hopes, a red flag came on lap 60 for lightning. Despite efforts to wait out the storm, worries about clashing with the Xfinity Series race looming later in the day prompted NASCAR to call the race.

Albeit shortened by weather, the win is Hill’s second in a row after winning a month prior at Knoxville and his first on a road course. With a tenth-place finish, Hocevar locked himself into the playoffs alongside fellow rookie Chandler Smith. Although Smith, who crossed the finish in eighteenth, was eventually disqualified for failing post-race heights, he still qualifies for the playoffs.

“It was nervewracking, that’s for sure,” said Hill. “I didn’t know if we were going to go back green or not, but it feels so good to win on a road course. I’ve been wanting to win on a road course for a really long time—even back in the K&N (Pro Series, now ARCA Menards Series East/West) days, I felt like I would get around the road course fairly decent and finally we had a race that does everything we needed to do. I was really biting my nails there and then when that rain came and I didn’t know what was going to happen with the lightning and all that.”

Nemechek will enter the playoffs as the points leader after winning the regular season championship. Hill, Rhodes, Gilliland, and Creed are the other five drivers in the ten-person grid with race wins and are seeded as such. Smith, Matt Crafton, Hocevar, Smith, and Stewart Friesen round out the lineup.

UPDATE: Article has been updated to include Smith’s post-race inspection failure

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
1116Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota61Running
264John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota61Running
3192Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet61Running
4238Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord61Running
53875Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet61Running
6821Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet61Running
71026Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet61Running
83966Paul MenardThorSport RacingToyota61Running
94032Sam Mayer*Bret Holmes RacingChevrolet61Running
10942Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet61Running
112125Josh Berry*Rackley WARChevrolet61Running
122302Kaz GralaYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet61Running
131598Christian EckesThorSport RacingToyota61Running
142215Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord61Running
15599Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota61Running
162022Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet61Running
171240Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet61Running
181651Corey HeimKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota61Running
19181Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord61Running
201752Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota61Running
21719Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota61Running
22488Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota61Running
231413Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota61Running
243656Timmy HillHill MotorsportsChevrolet61Running
252724Jack WoodGMS RacingChevrolet61Running
261312Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet61Running
272523A.J. Allmendinger*GMS RacingChevrolet61Running
281130Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota61Running
29353Bobby ReuseJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet61Running
303749Roger ReuseCMI MotorsportsFord60Running
313333Josh ReaumeReaume Brothers RacingToyota60Running
322434Lawless AlanReaume Brothers RacingToyota60Running
333420Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet59Running
343145Chad ChastainNiece MotorsportsChevrolet58Running
353217Taylor GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord53Running
362810Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingFord45Running
37266Norm BenningNorm Benning RacingChevrolet40Too Slow
38309Grant EnfingerCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet8Transmission
392941Will Rodgers*Cram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet6Transmission
40318Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota61Running (DSQ)
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points
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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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