Hillier Manages 20th-Place Finish at Eagle Nationals EAGLE, NE (June 9) -- Despite colliding with Eagle Raceway's retaining barriers twice Saturday, Chad Hillier drove the ...
Hillier Manages 20th-Place Finish at Eagle Nationals
EAGLE, NE (June 9) -- Despite colliding with Eagle Raceway's retaining barriers twice Saturday, Chad Hillier drove the #5C DIRT Inc. Maxim into 20th place at the Eagle Nationals.
The World of Outlaws' Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidate was running 16th during the fourth lap when he clipped one of the big retaining tires on the back straightaway. After Crew Chief Tyler Swank and Mechanic Pete Stephens repaired the #5C, Hillier raced back into 16th place again only to bump the wall with 10 laps remaining and eventually finished 20th in the "A" Feature.
"It was really unfortunate that I got into that tire on the back stretch -- I caught the right rear on it -- because we had a really good car," Hillier said. "If I hadn't done that, we would have been a lot better; we were able to get around the bottom and we were good on the top. That put us all the way to the back, and we were pretty twisted up after that. I had that driver mentality toward the end. I was in a good position and should have maintained, but I tried to pass some more and got into the wall.
"We weren't giving up; that's for sure. We had a really good car, the engine was running good and the guys did a really good job for me all night. I appreciate the other teams' crew guys helping us get back out there. I don't know who all was back there, but they fixed it pretty quick. They had to replace pretty much all of the right-side suspension: the shocks, the torsion bars and the birdcage. I always tell my guys, 'any time anybody's in here and needs help, jump in there and give them a hand. You never know when we'll need help.' That's just the camaraderie we have in this sport. It's tough out here, but we help each other."
Hillier's 13.053-second qualifying lap was the 17th-fastest in the 27-car field. He finished fourth in the Second Heat Race to claim the ninth row inside starting position in the 40-lap main event.
Since failing to qualify for nine of the World of Outlaws' first 22 "A" Features this season, the DIRT Inc. team has turned a tough situation around and raced in the last eight main events. Hillier recorded his World of Outlaws-best eighth-place finish in Tuesday's Hoosier Sprint Nationals at Kokomo Speedway.
"We were pretty down there for a while when we were racing in Pennsylvania," Hillier said. "We turned things around at Rolling Wheels. We didn't qualify that well, but we raced really well. We've used some provisionals lately, but we've had a pretty decent racecar. We're figuring things out and qualifying better now, so the atmosphere is pretty good. Everybody's getting along and working well together, even when we have problems. It's really tough out here, but we're getting better. We're doing our own thing; we're not worrying about what other teams are doing, and that's helping us. We're not worrying about what wings, bars or shocks other guys are running; it's like, this is what we're running and we're going to work with it. We're come a long way with our motors, and we have a decent shock package that I'm comfortable with, too. Before, we were pretty good early and struggling at the end, but now we're running consistent all night."
Hillier is looking forward to Thursday's race at Tri-City Speedway, a racetrack that was recently reconfigured from a ½-mile to a semi-banked, 3/8-mile oval.
"Hopefully, we can race at Granite City this time," Hillier said. "They reconfigured that track, which is good because we haven't been there and nobody else has raced on the new track either. We won't be at a disadvantage like we usually are. Everybody will be in the same situation."