NASCAR loses full-time Cup Series driver, team

Bristol, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Bristol, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

As many anticipated, MBM Motorsports, which had competed full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series since last year, will not compete this Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

MBM Motorsports entered the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season coming off of their first season as a full-time Cup Series team.

The Carl Long-owned team entered the sport’s top series in 2017 and ran their first full season in 2020 with Timmy Hill behind the wheel of the #66 car for all 36 races on the schedule.

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They returned in 2021 with Hill behind the wheel of the #66 car once again, although he failed to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

He competed in the next five races before Mike Marlar was given the opportunity to drive his car on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway due to his dirt racing background.

But the inevitable came true ahead of this Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Hill and MBM Motorsports are not on the entry list for this 500-lap race around the four-turn, 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) oval in Ridgeway, Virginia, and this was something that the 28-year-old Port Tobacco, Maryland predicted ahead of the most recent race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

With the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series returning this season after it was introduced last year when there was no live action as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Hill and the team had planned to package their real life racing to this virtual series when it came to sponsorship.

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The only problem?

Despite Hill’s dominance in the series last season, which saw him finish in the top three in six of the seven races and win the race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway, getting him all kinds of air time he doesn’t get on weekends driving a backmarker car in real-life Cup Series races, he and the team were not invited to compete in it this season.

Even after they inquired about not getting an invitation for the opener on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway and even though there were still slots in the field which could have been filled, they were not let in.

Despite being a full-time Cup Series team, they were not allowed to compete because they don’t compete in real life using a charter.

Hill did get the chance to compete in the race after all, but only because of a kind gesture from Team Penske’s Austin Cindric and Brad Keselowski. This led to Hill getting to drive the virtual #2 Ford, but driving one of Roger Penske’s cars didn’t do much good for MBM Motorsports and their sponsors/potential sponsors.

Short-term, it was a feel-good story for Hill and NASCAR. He got to compete after it looked as though he wouldn’t get to do so.

But the entire situation put him and the team behind the eight ball sponsorship-wise, and it has already caught up to them.

For the first time since the race at Martinsville Speedway in October 2019, before they had ever competed as a full-time team in the Cup Series, MBM Motorsports are not slated to compete this weekend, and according to what Hill said after their omission from the virtual race on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway, it won’t be the last one they miss.

In fact, it’s not known when they’ll actually return, and it really boils down to a completely avoidable wound.

There was absolutely no reason for Hill and the team to not be allowed to compete in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, yet now here we are.

Sure, it wasn’t meant to be a free-for-all.

But we’re talking about a full-time team and driver.

That’s really all there is to know.

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Fox Sports 1 is set to broadcast the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 live from Martinsville Speedway beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 10.