Eighteen-year-old Timmy Hill is driving Rick Ware Racing’s No. 15 car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Even more impressive, Hill was too young to race at Daytona earlier this year, so he had to wait until the series visited Phoenix International Raceway before he could get behind the wheel. The youngster headed into Darlington Raceway with a little momentum on his side. He finished 14th at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this year, and it really showed how good the team is.
No stranger to the Pee Dee area, Hill visits Dillon Motor Speedway as well as Florence Motor Speedway on Saturday nights throughout the racing season. He usually competes in a Legend car or an Allison Legacy car. However, he has never been to the “Lady in Black”, otherwise known as the Darlington Raceway.
Hill was 28th quickest in the Nationwide Series’ one and only practice session. His fastest lap time was 29.857 seconds at 164.705mph. He ran 56 laps with his 40th lap being the fastest. That’s not too bad for a high school kid competing against the best drivers in the world.
“When you first hit the racetrack, you look at both corners and you kind of say to yourself ‘Okay I’ve learned basically two different tracks in a way’.” Timmy Hill said. “I have done a lot of iRacing (Computer simulation game.), but some people say that’s not a lot of help, but it’s a huge step for me. We started out tight, which is a good thing for a rookie being the first time here to feel the car out on the track.”
During the first 40 laps, Hill lost a few positions. He started 23rd, but fell back to 26th. On lap 96, there was a huge crash on the backstretch. Hill had to navigate his No. 15 Lilly Trucking Ford Mustang through the blinding smoke and wrecked cars. After the backstretch turned into a junkyard, Hill came out of the mayhem without a scratch on his car. The crash catapulted Hill up to the 15th position.
“I saw the smoke, and the spotter called the wreck out,” Hill said. “At that point you kind of look round for any kind of hole. It happened fast, but I saw a hole on the outside that got me through it.”
Hill learned a little more with every lap that he completed. He was now well inside the top 20, fighting cars that have a little larger budget and better equipment. He fell back a few more positions, but in the end, he captured a very impressive 19th place finish. This would be Timmy’s second top 20 of the year in only his ninth start in a NASCAR race. What was even more impressive is that he avoided the red and white walls, and never got the deadly “Darlington Stripe.”
“We never got the speed on the short runs,” Hill said. “It took about 20 laps before the car back into rhythm, and from there we started picking up positions. It hurt us because we lost in the short runs, and then finally we would gain what we lost.”
Now the Rick Ware Racing team heads to Dover International Speedway with even more momentum on their side. Once again it will be another learning curve for Hill, but so far so good. In a way he tamed Darlington Raceway and looks to taming The Monster Mile next week.