NASCAR: Timmy Hill is more than a great virtual racer

(Editors note: This image was computer generated in-game) Timmy Hill, MBM Motorsports, iRacing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Editors note: This image was computer generated in-game) Timmy Hill, MBM Motorsports, iRacing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Timmy Hill has been the driver to beat in the first two races of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. But he is more than just a great virtual racer.

The coronavirus pandemic has led NASCAR to postpone its races for the foreseeable future, and that led to the creation of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which debuted two Sundays ago at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For each race on the Cup Series schedule that is postponed, there is scheduled to be an eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at the virtual edition of the originally planned venue. This past Sunday, the race was held at Texas Motor Speedway, and this upcoming Sunday, the race is scheduled to be held at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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The driver who has dominated this series is one who otherwise really wouldn’t be talked about much on Sundays, and that is Timmy Hill.

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Hill finished in third place in the race at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway behind Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he held off Ryan Preece to win the race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway, illustrating what he is capable of when driving equal equipment compared to the rest of the field.

Hill’s success came as no surprise to many. In fact, he was considered one of the favorites for both of these eNASCAR races due to his past success on iRacing, which now includes 674 wins. At one point, he was the number one iRacer in the world.

Over the last two weekends, it’s not hard to see why that was the case.

But what might have been harder to see a few weeks ago, when nobody had any idea that Sundays would be filled with iRacing events at virtual venues as opposed to real-life race tracks packed with fans, has become a lot clearer now: the 27-year-old Port Tobacco, Maryland native is a lot more than just a great virtual racer.

In fact, the journey of Hill and MBM Motorsports to the Cup Series this year is one that was covered extensively throughout the offseason, all while still not getting quite the publicity it deserved.

Coming into the 2020 season, MBM Motorsports had never previously fielded a full-time entry. They opened in 2014 and debuted in the Cup Series in 2017 on a part-time basis. Hill, team owner Carl Long and David Starr combined to compete in 12 races in the 2017 season. That total moved up to 20 races in 2018 with Hill, Chad Finchum and Mark Thompson competing.

In 2019, Hill and Joey Gase combined for 15 starts, although one race notably featured both drivers, marking the team’s first two-car effort.

This year, plans were different. Shortly after the 2019 season ended, MBM Motorsports made it clear that their plans were to run the full 36-race 2020 season, and they wanted to run it with Hill behind the wheel.

Without a charter, they knew that this would be difficult, and this challenge started at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona 500 qualifying, where they were an underdog. They never truly confirmed a full-time campaign, but it was clear what was at stake here.

If Hill, one of seven drivers of non-chartered entries attempting to compete in this race, failed to qualify for the race, MBM Motorsports’ season would likely be over even before it truly had a chance to start.

But after fighting for funding and clawing together several sponsorship deals over the offseason, Hill and the team made it happen. He finished in 16th place in his Duel race leading up to the Daytona 500, and that was good enough to lock him into the 40-car field as one of the four open entries for the first time in his career.

He has competed in every race since, and the plan is for the #66 car to be in action for every race throughout the rest of the season.

Sure, Hill’s iRacing success, especially over the last two weeks, is what has really put him on the radar in the eyes of NASCAR fans.

But while his average Cup Series finish may be 35.5 over the course of 96 starts going back to the 2012 season and while he may have just one top 20 finish in his career, look beyond the numbers and look at the skillset of the driver himself.

With all due respect to the teams for which he has driven, he has never had a great opportunity to shine at NASCAR’s highest level. Aside of MBM Motorsports, he has competed for Rick Ware Racing, NEMCO Motorsports, FAS Lane Racing, Circle Sport, Identity Ventures Racing, Hillman Racing, Team Xtreme Racing, Premium Motorsports and Spire Motorsports.

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Yet here he is, taking advantage of every opportunity that comes his way, just as he has done throughout his entire career, which isn’t limited to NASCAR. The only thing that’s changed now is the fact that he finally has a chance to showcase his talent without being overshadowed by any other driver at any level of NASCAR competition.