Race Weekend Central

Timmy Hill Talks Hattori Partnership, Life as an Owner/Driver

Timmy Hill has been in NASCAR since 2011, but this season may be one of the most important ones in his career.

Hill has driven for Carl Long‘s MBM Motorsports since 2016, competing in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series. MBM cut back on its Cup schedule in 2019 — it’s only competed in 11 races so far — but has fielded four Xfinity cars for the season.

Despite only running 22 of the 28 Xfinity races this season, Hill already has a career-high seven top-20 finishes. This summer, MBM formed a partnership with Hattori Racing Enterprises, which immediately paid off with Hill scoring a seventh-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway — tying his career-best finish. His three other career top 10s all came at Daytona International Speedway. 

Hill also started a Gander Outdoors Truck Series team this year, which has been competing part-time with him and his brother Tyler driving it.

Here’s what Hill had to say at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL last weekend.

Michael Massie, Frontstretch: What do you think about the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL so far?

Hill: I think it’s a nice change of pace. In my opinion, it’s a cool idea that Charlotte and NASCAR decided to do the road course, the ROVAL instead of coming here twice as two ovals. For me as a fan, if you had to make a decision as to what ticket you wanted to buy, you had to pick one or the other. But now, I feel like they added kind of a neat opportunity to kind of force people to say, “Hey, I got to go to both,” because it’s two different events.

So that was neat, and of course, I love road racing. So it’s neat that they added another road course. I think most drivers say it’s more fun because there’s more you can do in the car, between shifting, both left and right turns.

Massie: Well, it equalizes it a little bit, too, doesn’t it?

Hill: Yeah, it sure does. So that aspect, I love that as a driver as well, so I think it’s kind of a win-win kind of all around.

Massie: How many more Cup races do you have planned for the rest of this year? 

Hill: We’re not sure. We’re kind of picking and choosing. You know, our main focus is on the Xfinity Series. We have four full-time cars on the Xfinity side. That’s a really big commitment we have going right now. What we’ve been doing is when we have the opportunity, kind of catch up and get a little bit ahead in our Xfinity program. Where we feel like that running a Cup car won’t hinder anything we do on that side, then we will. So this race being close to Charlotte or close to home was an easy opportunity for us to say, “Hey, let’s go run our Cup car this week.”

So we’re going to run a few more times. Joey (Gase) has a couple races he’s going to run. I’ll probably run a couple more. I don’t know how many exactly, but I say maybe four more, just to take a rough guess at it.

Massie: The last time I talked to you was Bristol Motor Speedway when you had that top-10 finish. Have things been different at all since then? What did that do for the team?

Hill: Well, it was a really neat confidence booster for us. Really, that Bristol race is basically our same effort, but we had full funding for that race, so we were able to have the tires that we needed. I think that for us, it really allowed us to understand that if we do get the opportunity to have full sponsorship to go out and get everything we really need for a race that we can be a top-10 team. And so Bristol was a good chance for us to show that. Seventh place was an awesome deal.

We had another opportunity to do that again at Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) with Austin Hill driving. He finished ninth. So the two shots we had at really a full effort, we’ve been a top-10 team. So that’s a confidence booster for us, for this organization. For me, personally, it’s a big shot in the arm because a lot of these races don’t have the full funding. It’s a struggle just to get to the racetrack. We don’t always get the chance to perform at the peak that we can.

Massie: So those two races, Hattori was involved, right? So are they just involved in spot starts here and there, or have they been involved since Bristol?

Hill: Here and there. I think Hattori, they like the opportunity to maybe look at progressing and maybe looking at some Xfinity stuff. We were able to work with them and kind of work together on it. Because obviously, their full attention is on the Truck program, and they’re competing for a championship. It’d be really tough for them to almost take some of that focus away to an Xfinity program.

So it was kind of a nice way for us to work together on it. It helped us out to work with them, too. So I’m kind of happy that all came together.

Massie: Are there any more races this year, going into next year, where that partnership’s going to happen?

Hill: I don’t know if we’ll do any more this year. There’s a chance maybe one more, maybe two more. But I think it was a good kind of way for them to get their feet wet with it and have more of an understanding of it. I don’t know if we’ll do anymore. But things went really well. I think both sides were really happy with how everything went, which is very positive for us going forward.

Massie: Are you trying to get Hattori to put a second truck out there to see how you can do behind the wheel?

Hill: I would always love that opportunity. If that came about, I would love that. It’s funny, I got my own Truck team going now, so I’ve kind of focused a lot of my attention toward that. And I’m at a time in my life now where I would love to see my own Truck program grow, maybe become a championship program of my own. Working with them is kind of nice because you see maybe some of the things they do that we may not have thought of. And we kind of change our focus and how we can prepare our own racecars, so that’s nice as well. But you never know.

Massie: So, how’s the Truck team going?

Hill: It’s been very busy, a lot more hours, a lot more stress than I kind of anticipated. But I think it’s been well worth it — a lot of rewards and a lot of hardships as well. We had some instances where we banged our truck up and have some damage that I really didn’t anticipate fixing this year. So certain things you can’t really plan on but you have to prepare for, I’ve kind of learned that as an owner.

My whole goal this year was to run a part-time schedule, really grasp a better understanding of the ownership role. I work with Carl (Long) quite a bit on the business side for his business, so I knew a lot of things to already do. But until you jump in, you really don’t have everything. So I really feel like I’ve learned so much this year and have a better understanding on the ownership-side roles, and that will allow me to continue to grow. Some of these guys, they jump 100% right away and then they find things out that didn’t really anticipate. The way I approached it was to do a part-time schedule, spread the races out so I can learn and improve every time I go to the racetrack, and I feel like I’ve done that.

Massie: How do you decide if you or your brother are going to drive the truck?

Hill: There’s some racetracks that I really want to do that I’ve been better at in my career. My brother, a lot of these tracks he hasn’t been to. So I sit down with him and choose some racetracks that may not be quite as difficult to start out on as some other racetracks. What I want for him is I want him to succeed as well. You know, there’s some easier racetracks that may be best for him to learn and get back after it and have him gain some experience in these trucks. That way, when he has more seat time, I can throw him out there as some of these tougher racetracks. We look at that as well. Mostly, we just pick racetracks that I may like. I know Tyler, we both really like the short tracks, so it’s really tough. We kind of fight over those. There’s a few of those left. We more or less pick races out that we like.

Massie: What’s the ultimate goal for the team? Is it to have two trucks with you and Tyler both racing?

Hill: I’d like to branch out the Truck team out to where it runs, if not a full-time schedule, pretty close to it. I want to get good with one team first. I don’t want to jump into two trucks right away, just because I’m really doing this to have a really good program that runs well. I don’t want to get to a point where I’m stretched out. So this year, I want to know whether I can do it. And now that I know I can do that, I want to continue to grow and make it more of a complete season. So that’s what I want to focus on now. And if that works well, then we may consider that later on.

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