Timmy Hill comes off a partial schedule in 2013 as a rookie driver in the NASCARSprint Cup Series. Driving for FAS Lane Racing, Hill wrapped up the year with an average finish of 34.0, although he posted just three DNFs – none of which were due to wrecks, an admirable result for a first-year at the sport’s highest level. Due to a lack of funding and some changes within the driver lineup, Hill was forced to find a new ride for 2014 — but he did so quickly. This season, the sophomore settles into the No. 33 car at Circle Sport Racing, where he will run another partial schedule pending sponsorship. Hill’s first start of the season, should he qualify comes this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Summer Bedgood spoke with Hill about the upcoming race and his future with the team.
Summer Bedgood, Frontstretch.com: How did the deal with Circle Sport come about?
Timmy Hill: I had a good year with FAS Lane Racing last year. Had a very solid year, learned a lot and had a great time doing it. I guess over the offseason, Frankie Stoddard told me that they didn’t have any funding for the upcoming season and [was] trying to figure out what the best deal was. Ken Schrader was leaving and they were trying to figure out how to fill the races up. Travis Kvapil had a few sponsors he had come with him and it was a better deal to have Travis drive this car. With that being said, over the offseason Frankie, who is a great friend of mine, he helped me look around for a good venture for me. He gave advice out and told me some people I could call. I got in touch with Joe Falk and Mike Hillman and they showed a lot of interest for me to drive their car. Over the offseason, I kept back-and-forth talking with them. At Daytona, we finalized driving for them and here we are, going to Vegas.
Bedgood: How many races are you planning on running this year with them?
Hill: I don’t have an exact number for you. I know Brian Scott is going to drive a few more, and they’ll probably have someone else driving road courses. I know we’re going to Vegas and Bristol. I know Brian Scott is driving California. So, I don’t have an exact number for you but it’s going to be quite a few, though.
Bedgood: Is the official schedule dependent upon sponsorship?
Hill: Yes, exactly.
Bedgood: Do you have any sponsorship lined up as of now?
Hill: At this moment, we don’t have one for Vegas. Still working on a few.
Bedgood: So how was the decision made to begin the season at Vegas?
Hill: They’re running the No. 33 car all season. Brian Scott was scheduled to run the 500 and Phoenix, but he wanted to focus on his Nationwide season and they didn’t have a driver from Vegas on. Like I said, I spoke with them over the offseason, I got a lot of experience in the Sprint Cup car last year and I was the best candidate for Las Vegas.
Bedgood: So, basically, you and Brian Scott are going to be rotating as many races as they can fit on the schedule, correct?
Hill: Yes, that’s correct.
Bedgood: How well did you know Circle Sport before this season? Did you know them well or are you still getting to know them?
Hill: A lot of this is new to me. Last year, when I was driving the 32 car for FAS Lane, a lot of the time we were always next to each other in the garage. And we’d always joke around and talk back and forth. But this is new to me. I’m still learning a lot of the guy’s names at the shop and our friendships are growing a lot now. This is new to me. I guess our only previous communication was just being side-by-side in the garages and being competitors on race day.
Bedgood: What are the similarities or differences in the way the teams operate?
Hill: Everybody’s a little bit different, but a lot of the things are run the same way. These guys are having a good time and enjoy racing. I enjoy working with them. Racing has always been a fun thing and if you’re not having fun, it’s too much of a drag on you. These guys are working hard. They’re at the shop everyday and just working hard like everybody is. It’s tough to be in this sport, but these guys are hard workers and I’m happy to be driving for them.
Bedgood: It sounds like you are going to be pretty busy this year. Do you ever have any down time? And if you do, what do you do with it?
Hill: We don’t really have too much down time. The down time I do have, I do spend with my family. There are some different things I do. I’m a real big sim racer, so I practice a lot online on simulations. Not only do I really enjoy that, but it’s a big help in preparing for the next race in knowing the lift points, brake points, pit road entrance — just different oddball things that are little things, but are a big help for me and it’s a big enjoyment for me as well.
Bedgood: That’s kind of mind-blowing that racing simulations could be that helpful to a driver, no matter how realistic. Give me an example of how it has helped you.
Hill: The biggest help it’s ever been to me is in my rookie season in Nationwide. We went to Road America, which is a racetrack I’d never been to, I’d never seen, and I wouldn’t know how long or how many turns there is to begin with. So I pull onto the racetrack and there are a lot of turns, a lot of ups and downs on the hills, and a lot of blind corners. So basically, it’s a racetrack where if I were to just show up without any idea, I’d really struggle. But I did a lot of testing on iRacing. Really learned the racetrack and studied everything about it and I had my best finish of the year there. I finished 11th in my rookie season. So it was a huge help to me. It was a racetrack I’d never seen before and I had my best finish there.