With 120 XFINITY Series starts and 20 in the Camping World Truck Series, Sunday’s 60th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start brought Timmy Hill to 200 NASCAR starts.
At 24 years old, Hill has been a quiet character in all three series, competing for low-budget teams and only cracking the top 10 on three occasions.
But for Hill, reaching the 200 mark was a special occasion, especially with it falling on the Brickyard 400.
“It was very neat at this particular race to be my 200th race,” Hill told Frontstretch. “To come out here and have such a great showing — this is my best Cup finish and I couldn’t be any happier. We work hard every weekend. We just don’t have all the parts and pieces to get the finish.”
Indeed, Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was an opportunity race for Hill and his Carl Long Motorsports team, who competed in only their fourth Cup race on the campaign. With high attrition, Hill took advantage of not one, but three free passes on the day to bring his No. 66 car back on the lead lap.
With one last crash occurring with two laps to go, Hill drove through the backstretch grass, finishing 14th and on the lead lap for the first time since 2013.
“It was tremendous,” he said. “We didn’t have the best of cars, we’re a small team. We try to get a top 30. So today, there was so much attrition and we played a really smart race. We got our best finish ever at 14th. These guys are incredibly happy.”
Though Indy was Hill’s 12th Cup start of 2017, nine of them have come with Rick Ware Racing. With team owner Carl Long having only one Cup car, Hill still has more seat time to come in the No. 66
“We have more races planned, this is our only car,” he said. “Typically, we have to run a race, see how the car comes out, and see if it comes out damaged. But this car doesn’t look too bad. We’ll go through it and make sure nothing is bent or broken on it.”
With experience in his back pocket — and a feel-good opportunity in the news for fellow underdog Alex Bowman in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 starting in 2018 — some wonder if or when Hill will ever get his chance with a larger organization. Hill certainly hopes so.
“I just want to keep working away,” he said. “I embrace what I do. We don’t have all the funding and resources but I certainly embrace what we do. Hopefully, one day, I can get that opportunity.”
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