Austin Hill won Friday night’s World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the Round of 6 was set for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs.
Hill, on fresher tires, passed Ross Chastain with 12 laps to go and went on to win his third race of the season.
“When I saw the 45 (Chastain) in my sights, we were running close to lap times and I started changing my line a little bit,” Hill said. “We picked up two or three-tenths there changing my line. That was a big statement win. We drove by the 45 like he was sitting still and then just kept pulling. For a little bit – our truck was cutting in and out. I don’t know if fuel pressure was messing up or what. I was crossing my fingers every lap I came by after I took the lead.”
Chastain led a race-high 88 laps and won the opening two stages before settling for second.
Hill and Chastain will advance to the next round along with Brett Moffitt, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum.
Pole-sitter Christian Eckes, Sheldon Creed and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top five.
Brennan Poole, Moffitt, Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton and Dylan Lupton completed the top 10. Moffitt had to come from the rear of the field after a flat tire in qualifying.
Ankrum, who was reporting power problems as the race wound down, finished 11th to take the sixth and final spot for the next round, just two points ahead of Johnny Sauter, who had made the Championship 4 the prior three seasons.
“Thank God it was only an electrical issue and not a motor problem but at least we didn’t blow up,” Ankrum said. “We were able to limp our way to the end. We had a fast truck but bad electrical issues here lately, I think we’ll figure it out. We’ve got some tough tracks coming up and some places for great opportunity.”
Friesen finished 19th, two laps down, after the team had to change the plug wires after the first stage.
Regular-season champion Grant Enfinger was eliminated from the playoffs when a mechanical issue took him out of the race six laps in.
“It’s just a shame our season hopes come down to quality control on a spec part that we have nothing to do with,” Enfinger said. “Just frustrating.”
Enfinger’s ThorSport Racing teammate Sauter missed advancing to the next round when he had an issue at the same time as his other teammate Crafton on Lap 40.
“I think we both just hit something on the racetrack and it took out the oil lines,” Crafton said.
After the reset, Moffitt leads Hill by 17 points with sixth-place Ankrum 29 behind.