Timmy Hill didn’t receive a trophy after winning the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series title.
There was no championship ring, no champagne, no press conference acknowledging his accomplishment.
But Hill did gain something from the experience—name recognition.
“And maybe a pat on the back,” Hill said with a laugh. “More than anything iRacing really excited our current sponsors—and maybe potential sponsors for the future. We have a lot more races with our current sponsors than we did prior to iRacing on television. It kind of laid the groundwork for potential sponsors who were interested in live racing beforehand.
“There are some challenges—since we won’t be racing in front of fans and trying to get our sponsorship to the race track. But it has definitely opened up some opportunities for us to put more money in our program, and ultimately that will help our effort.”
For the first time in a decade of NASCAR competition, the 27-year-old Port Tobacco, Maryland, native was mentioned regularly during the FOX Sports broadcasts because of his outstanding performance on a sim rig that cost much less than those of most of his competitors.
In seven virtual races behind the wheel of the iRacing No. 66 Toyota, Hill finished on the podium in six events, including his win at Texas Motor Speedway. On Saturday, he finished the final race of the season second behind Denny Hamlin at virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway.
“It was a nice change of pace,” Hill told RacinBoys.com. “In real life, I don’t have cars that are capable of running up front. It was nice to have an even playing field where every driver is on equal footing. I was happy to be able to showcase my talent, showcase some ability and some consistency and prove that I can run up front and win races. It was fun for a change.
“This is something I’ve been doing all of my life. I’ve won plenty of races growing up in the short-track ranks. Obviously, when you get to NASCAR, it’s quite a bit more expensive. It was a nice change of pace. It was nice to kind of introduce people to iRacing as well. Most of the drivers use iRacing as a tool to gear up for races.”
Where the caliber of equipment didn’t factor into the contest, skill and talent won out in the iRacing arena. Hill could keep pace with drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports in the virtual world, where he has amassed 674 victories overall in 1,682 starts.
But the odds will change this weekend when Hill straps into his Motorsports Business Management ride at Darlington Raceway.
In actual NASCAR Cup competition, Hill is 0-for-96. His best result of 22nd came at Kansas Speedway in 2012, Hill’s first year on the tour. Hill’s career has taken him to eight different Cup teams, five full seasons in the Xfinity Series and ownership of the No. 56 Chevrolet in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Throughout his motorsports journey, iRacing has remained a constant in Hill’s life. And now, with the new race procedures during the coronavirus pandemic, simulation time will be more valuable than ever. At Darlington and Charlotte Motor Speedway, teams will have no opportunity to practice prior to the race. Drivers will qualify for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on May 24, but traditional time trials happen at Darlington or the second Cup event at Charlotte.
“iRacing is a great tool to familiarize yourself with the race track—with pit road, with braking points, with your lifting points—really every aspect of racing,” Hill said. “Obviously, you’re not going to have the same feel, but to prepare yourself for the race, iRacing is a great tool to give you a head start going into the weekend.
"It’s something that I always use and will continue to use because I see the benefit in it. I’m the type of guy who is fully committed to my racing career. I’ll do whatever it takes especially if I think it can benefit me. I credit iRacing with some of my success because it prepares you for the task at hand at the real race track.”