Timmy Hill Holds Off Ryan Preece To Win eNASCAR iRacing Event At Virtual Texas Motor Speedway

Timmy Hill (66) holds off Ryan Preece (37) at the checkered to win the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series event Sunday at virtual Texas Motor Speedway (Digital Image: Courtesy NASCAR)

Staff Report

NASCAR Wire Service

Timmy Hill gave the afternoon’s dominant car, driven by William Byron, the virtual “bump-and-run” with three laps remaining to take the race lead and then ultimately held off fellow NASCAR Cup Series drivers Ryan Preece and Garrett Smithley for the victory in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 125, the second event in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

Byron, who drives the famed No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, led a dominating 80 laps but Hill’s move with three laps of regulation was good enough to flush Byron back into the pack. A caution came out and Hill then had to hold off fellow iRacing regulars Preece and Smithley on a green-white-checkered restart. Byron ended up seventh.

It was the 27-year old Maryland native’s 674th iRacing victory, but Hill acknowledged it was among the most important of his career. 

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Hill said “Very exciting times for us because we just don’t get the recognition on a normal basis. To be on an even playing field is excellent. To be on this platform, the Cup platform, is exciting. The amount of folks that reached out to me has just been tremendous.

“The last lap was just one I will definitely remember for a while.”

Hill said he had already participated in his usual victory celebration – his wife gave him a hug and big glass of milk to drink.

“Downed that right away and hugged her,” he said.

“I had quite a bit of friends that were in my channel throughout the race that were spotting me, crew chiefing me throughout the race. I kind of got to chat with them. I am not surrounded by all my loved ones right now because everybody is trying to be safe.  But I got a lot of phone calls, messages. I feel like the hero today.”

Although Hill, who has 1,677 iRacing starts, essentially paces the field in iRacing virtual experience, in the real world, he competes for a smaller, low-budget team. He qualified for his first NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 only this February driving the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management and finished 27th – his best showing in the four races NASCAR held before putting the regular season on hold as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opportunity to continue to compete – albeit virtually – against many of the same NASCAR Cup Series drivers – plus a group of drivers from other NASCAR series that qualified for Sunday’s race – has been a significant achievement for Hill – a sort of virtual victory for the real life underdog.

For example, Hill is competing in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series with a 12-year old steering wheel attached to a desk with only a single viewing monitor to conduct his race – a stark difference from last week’s inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational winner, Denny Hamlin who estimates he spent nearly $40,000 on his elaborate simulator set-up which is high-end all the way – from its high tech race seat to the three monitors and pedal system.

Hill, on the other hand, estimates his wheel cost him $300, it’s mounted to a $75 desk he got at a local office store. He sits in a $100 chair coordinating his race on a gaming computer that cost him about $1,400 by his estimate. But, he noted, it’s his primary laptop computer and he doesn’t just use it for iRacing but for everything – from running his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series team to filling out a personal tax return.

“For me personally the iRacing platform, it’s kind of an equalizer in effect that the cars that we’re driving on there, I’m in the same cars as everybody,” Hill explained. “Most weekends, I’m not in that situation. I’m in a situation where I’m racing on 15 lap tires, have a motor that’s 200 horsepower down, got a car that’s probably five years old. I’m really kind of behind the eight ball as soon as we show up at the racetrack at times.

“To come into the server where everybody has the same cars, in this case even the same setup, everybody is on the same exact playing field, basically the driver conquers all in this situation.

“I had more experience coming into it because I’ve been on the service quite a bit longer. I knew that would be to my advantage. At the end of the day, these guys are all competitors, they’re all turning hundreds of laps. They’re all doing the best they can. 

“For me to actually beat these guys on a level playing field, it really feels good for my driving talents. I look forward to the competition as it gets better in the coming weeks.

Certainly this second week of competition featured an even more robust level of performance – from fewer multi-car incidents, to fantastic racing up front. Byron, who famously helped earn his NASCAR opportunities through his excellence in iRacing won the pole position and showed the way for much of the race, which featured 10 leaders and 16 lead changes.

“Led most laps, got moved out of the way. We’ll get him back next time! Thanks,” Byron said of his afternoon on Twitter following the race.

Hill acknowledged that Byron may not have been too thrilled with the “bump-and-run” pass for the win, but that it was his only opportunity for victory – something he hoped the 22-year old Byron would understand in the coming days.

“I think the etiquette is similar to real life; basically you race people how they race you,” Hill said of the Byron incident at the end of the race.

“In this situation, we’ve never really raced each other. In real life we’re on two completely different levels of competition. So this is a unique situation where we were kind of competing for the win in the closing laps. I think that kind of changes the element and style of racing. For me it was a situation where I don’t get the chance to win much on this big of a platform. I told myself, If I have a chance to win any race, NASCAR, short track level, if it came down to it, that’s what I would do. It doesn’t change because it was iRacing. That’s what I would do in real life.

“Going forward, I’m sure William isn’t happy about it. I’m sure he’ll do the same back to me. Reverting back to what I said before, you race others how they race you. I’ll probably get a lot of abuse going forward. I’ll have to accept that. But that’s in the future. I’m kind of living in the present and happy to get the win.”

The win – on a nationally-televised NASCAR event – could be a game-changer for Hill; possibly attracting more sponsorship to either the Gander Truck team he owns or perhaps his NASCAR Cup Series car. The implications go beyond the virtual dashboard.

“For me personally, I’ve been in this sport for 10 years, don’t get talked about much. I feel like I can get the job done given an opportunity. I’m trying to showcase that as many times as I can. 

“I really feel that I can drive at a high-level in tough equipment given that opportunity,” Hill continued. “I don’t know if that will come from this, but you never know. I kind of hold hope for that. We’ll kind of see.”

One thing for sure, Hill will receive an iconic memento of his work.

As he was completing the winner’s press conference via conference call after the event, Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage offered a real – not virtual – winner’s cowboy hat – the traditional celebration in the Fort Worth Victory Lane.

“Excellent,” Hill said, when informed of the news.

It was indeed an excellent day for Hill.

eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series Race Number 2 Race Results: March 29, 2020                                                     

Texas Motor Speedway                                                                 

Total Race Length: 130 laps                                                         

1. (10) Timmy Hill, No. 66 Toyota, 130.

2. (7) Ryan Preece, No. 37 Chevrolet, 130.

3. (12) Garrett Smithley, No. 51 Chevrolet, 130.

4. (5) Landon Cassill, No. 89 Chevrolet, 130.

5. (20) Alex W Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet, 130.

6. (2) Dale Earnhardt Jr, No. 8 Chevrolet, 130.

7. (1) William Byron Jr, No. 24 Chevrolet, 130.

8. (3) John H Nemechek, No. 38 Ford, 130.

9. (27) Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, 130.

10. (30) Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chevrolet, 130.

11. (15) Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford, 130.

12. (4) Parker Kligerman, No. 77 Toyota, 130.

13. (6) Bobby Labonte, No. 19 Toyota, 130.

14. (11) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford, 130.

15. (16) Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Ford, 130.

16. (24) Ty Dillon, No.13 Chevrolet, 130.

17. (19) Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, 130.

18. (18) Chris Buescher, No. 17 Ford, 130.

19. (25) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, 130.

20. (28) Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet, 130.

21. (22) Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota, 130.

22. (33) Ross Chastain, No. 6 Ford, 129.

23. (31) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, No. 47 Chevrolet, 129.

24. (17) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, 129.

25. (29) Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Chevrolet, 129.

26. (32) Alex Labbe, No. 90 Chevrolet, 128.

27. (26) Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford, 128.

28. (13) Tyler Reddick, No. 31 Chevrolet, 128.

29. (8) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, 128.

30. (34) Ty Majeski, No. 45 Chevrolet, 122.

31. (21) Ruben Garcia, No. 27 Ford, 122.

32. (35) Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford, 121.

33. (9) Daniel Suarez, No. 96 Toyota, 110.

34. (14) Christopher Bell, No. 95 Toyota, 88.

35. (23) Anthony Alfredo, No. 33 Chevrolet, 39.

Race Statistics:

Average Lap: 40.366 seconds                                                         

Caution Flags: 5 for 21 laps                                                             

Lead Changes: 16                                            

Comments

  1. Good job Timmy Hill. Hope this is a Confidence booster for when real racing returns

  2. I do like the way they talk about it as being real competition. That it is clearly it just takes the rest of us a while to be invested in the product seeing as how it’s other then the real thing.
    If Preece is going to running up front that’s some motivation to go with the flow. It may be as close as we get to the real thing for a while.

  3. Preece did a freakin’ awesome run through the grass on the front stretch and maintained position!!!!!

  4. Finally. Preece in good (or at least equally prepared) equipment. Yes Sheldon, sarcasm.

  5. In the real world of racing, both JTG cars seem to be performing better than last year, although the results may not show it

  6. Respectfully Rob P., from where I am sitting, not for Preece. Other than the 37th finish where it might have been a “what might have been finish” had it not broke, its the same old mid pack JTG stuff. Better than the bottom feeders, but always a bit off the top tier Teams. Ryan has shown he can do it, if the equipment is right. If he can’t find a top tier ride, this will be the end of him in the top tier series. I am in no way, talking down Ryan’s abilities. But I think we all know here…. and as you would say Rob, and I truly mean no disrespect, JMO.

  7. Kenneth Latham says

    Bob, If I may piggy back off your remark. I agree, and THAT iis one of the reasons that I do not enjoy todays Cup Series racing. Just a bunch of Richie Rich kids, with a load of daddies money, taking good rides from MORE talented drivers. It does not make for better racing in my opinion.

  8. I am definitely not on the train of doom for Preece. At Daytona he was running in 10th at one point and ended up out in a crash fest. Vegas an engine.. Only two finishes were Fontana a 30 and Phoenix at 18.
    There have been glimpses of promise and then the shut down so we’re on hold.
    There is a pecking order and clearly the JTG Daugherty team will never be top tier. They don’t have to be. Improvement into the teens is what we’re looking for and I don’t believe it is a bridge too far when racing resumes.

  9. Doug;
    You and I have had great conversations about Preece and modified racing in general. I enjoy all of it. Keep it coming please! However, I’m not trying to draw your ire from this. I am a Preece fan. He has shown in the past, that no matter what he races, if the equipment is capable, he will get it to the front and be competitive. I just don’t see that in last year’s or this year’s, albeit, short body of work at JTG. He just can’t hang with anybody in the top 15. After a Pit stop with fresh rubber, adjustments, or not. And I know, it’s not him. When he get’s near the front runners, it’s due to pit cycling, or at super speedways, attrition. Sure, great driving, avoiding wrecks, but that’s not the equipment, that’s all him. And after pit stops and adjustments? Works his way back to 19,20 something. Maybe on lead lap, probably not.
    He will never be able to run consistently in the top 10, where he needs to be, in the equipment he is in. Driver talent can only make up for so much.
    In no way, do I beleive, that “teens” can possibly be his goal. It will not advance him in cup, for sure. But teens, to your point, in my opinion, is the best (sad to say) we could consistently hope for, where he is at. Hence, my doom, sorry to say. Just can’t get the rose colored glasses on here. However, i do hope you prove me wrong. There would be nothing I would like better than for you to have this nailed and for me to be wrong.
    I’ll take that trade if Preece has any margin of success at JTG. I know Doug, what are his options? Will go with glass half full, and he is currently, for now, racing in the top series….

  10. Fast Eddie says

    I’m hoping the former Roush crewchief on the 47 might help get both cars into top 15 on a regular basis.

  11. That would be great Fast Eddie. I hope so too.

  12. If my comment came off confrontational I apologize. Color me ireless especially toward a person who’s comments I always look forward to. I confess to having rose colored glasses with regard to Preece. I think your observations Bob are more insightful and probably more accurate then my self admitted, overly hopeful views on the guy.
    The only thing I think we don’t agree on is that in my view 15th to 20th has value, shows improvement and that’s all I’m looking for. Granted being a fan and seeing your guy fighting to break the top 20 isn’t exactly awe inspiring but it works for me.
    So nice to talk racing for a change.

  13. No apology required. I was just airing my view, and wanted to make sure you did not think I was doing any type of trolling is all. I was happy just for some race talk too.
    While I have not given up hope, and Fast Eddie made a great point, I was and am convinced Ryan has to do something this year. Now there will be a tremendous amount of “greater pressure” for results, with the shorter season when they get back to racing. I’ve said it before, Ryan is getting old at 28 for this series, to make his mark. I beleive it will be easier for him to be let go, if he doesn’t “wow” jtg, and quickly this year. This will really go bad for him particularly if Stenthouse does better in the 47, than Ryan did. I know, not fair comparison, ,not same crew chief, and who knows what else. And while Ryan moved to the car in the stable this year, that had better results than the 47 of last year, they were still marginal and not good enough for the first round of playoffs either. I certainly can’t speak for Ryan, because I do not know this, but He could be looking over his shoulder week to week. i hope not. I hope he runs his own race, and good or bad, chips fall where they may. And, (rose colored glasses time) who knows?
    Yeah, old subject, but agree. Nice to talk about racing. Hope you are still here Ken.

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