Photo: Courtesy of iRacing and NASCAR

Timmy Hill’s Late Race Bump and Run Leads to Golden Texas Victory

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Timmy Hill’s unforgettable 2020 season continues by winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, holding off a hard charging Ryan Preece by 0.050 seconds in overtime.

Hill put the pedal to the metal and cleared Garrett Smithley before heading into the first turn. Preece put the pressure on Smithley and got by on the bottom, putting him in excellent position for the win.

Coming to the final corner, Preece found a small yet grand opportunity to steal the win. However, Hill put the block on the JTG Daugherty Racing driver which made all the difference as Preece ran out of time as the MBM Motorsports driver took the checkered flag.

“After I took the white flag, I knew it was tough to pass into (Turns) 3 and 4. I knew if I can hold (Ryan and Garrett) off going into Turn 1 that I can almost coast and drive through victory,” Hill on the last lap battle. “That was all I was focusing on the final lap and I held those guys off through (Turns) 1 and 2. They got a big run through the center of Turn 4 and I hold those guys off, so I couldn’t be more excited.”

Following his burnout on his 12-year-old sim racing steering wheel, Hill was congratulated by his wife, Lucy Hill, and what can be considered a bit of Indy 500 vibes, drank a glass of milk.

“My wife comes up the stairs, gives me a big hug,” Hill on his celebration. “My favorite drink is a cup of milk. She gives me a cup of milk. Downed that right away. Hugged her.

“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.”

Not only that, Hill will indeed receive the coveted cowboy hat by Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage for the victory, leaving him feeling excellent about getting one that’s rewarded for drivers that win at the 1.5-mile circuit.

Before the thrilling finish, Hill had to set himself up for the race lead first. On Lap 121, Hill intimidated pole sitter William Byron by using the good ‘ol chrome horn in Turn 1, bumping him out of the way to put his No. 66 RoofClaim.com Toyota out in front.

Hill described his bump on Byron as one of those “race like they race you” aspects, citing that it boiled down of not having that kind of luxury in real-life racing as he drives for a smaller team compared to Byron driving for the prestigious four-car Hendrick Motorsports operation.

“This is a unique situation where we’re competing for the win in the closing laps. That kind of changes the element and style of racing,” Hill commented. “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, Hill will understand Byron is angry and will give it a few days before discussing the move, prepared for any sort of payback that may come his way.

“I’m sure he’ll do the same back to me,” Hill on Byron. “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.”

With Byron out of his radar, it appeared Hill had it made, but a multi-car crash in Turn 4 brought out the fifth and final caution of the afternoon, sending the race into overtime.

This was after Preece and Parker Kligerman tangled in Turn 4, sending Preece into the grass but kept his foot in it and saved his No. 37 Cottonelle Chevrolet from crashing into the Turn 1 wall.

Behind Preece, all hell went loose as guys like Byron, Alex Labbe (who won the qualifying race in the morning to make the 35-car field) and John Hunter Nemechek were collected in the melee. The incident didn’t stop Preece as he would rally from the chaos to come just shy of winning in “The Lone Star State.”

Hill’s iRacing victory can be best described as not only a moment that ranks up there as one of the definitive moments of his racing career, but also an opportunity for his entire brand, Carl Long’s race team and sponsors to get the much deserved notoriety.

Something he didn’t fully get during Speedweeks as the television coverage neglected any true recognition of him making the Daytona 500 and finishing third in the 300-mile Xfinity Series race. More so, during the rain delay of the 500-mile race, an impromptu press conference wasn’t even recorded as Hill came into the media center eating Bojangles and talked with the print media for a few minutes.

“It’s very exciting times for us because we don’t get the recognition on a normal basis,” Hill said. “To be on an even playing field is excellent and to be on this platform is exciting. The amount of folks who’ve reached out to me has been tremendous. The last lap is something that I’ll remember for awhile.”

Smithley, Landon Cassill, Alex Bowman, Dale Jr., Byron, Nemechek, Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch round out the top-10 in Sunday’s race-extending 130-lap race.

Clint Bowyer came home in 11th after rallying back from an earlier accident going onto the backstretch when he and Greg Biffle tangled, sending themselves into the inside wall.

“Survival. It was all about survival. I needed a redo,” Bowyer said. “I got together with “The Biff” off of (Turn) 2. I guess we were three-wide, I didn’t realize we were three wide.”

Following those comments, the humorous Bowyer pointed out that he had two spotters which were FOX NASCAR commentators Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds, neither whom did their jobs keeping him out of trouble.

As for Biffle, his virtual return to Roush Fenway Racing didn’t end on a positive note following the crash as the multi-time Texas winner finished 32nd.

Last week’s virtual Homestead winner Denny Hamlin had an up-and-down race, finishing a lap behind Hill in 24th.

Daniel Suarez was disqualified from the race after trying to intentionally taking out Ty Dillon. The attempt failed horrendously as he crashed hard at the exit of Turn 2 as Dillon finished in 16th.

Hill said stuff like that doesn’t happen often in iRacing and went into detail how a disqualifying process work under these circumstances.

The bigger events, like iRacing, they put on the Coca-Cola Series, they have live admins. If somebody does something inappropriate or something reckless, they will disqualify somebody and remove them from the server,” Hill said. “In this case, I haven’t got a chance to look at the replay, but from what my spotters and everybody was telling me, I think he was intentionally wrecking another competitor. You really you don’t want to see that.  

“Everybody is trying to race for a win, for a great position, put on a good show. You really can’t have that. You see it probably once in a blue moon, but it does happen.  In this case, it’s one of those blue moon moments.

The third race of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will be at “The Last Great Coliseum” in Bristol Motor Speedway, where tempers is expected to heat up April 5. Live coverage begins at 1:00 pm EST on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports app.

“I think guys are learning the limits right now,” Hill on the driver’s intensity going into next Sunday’s race. “I felt like what I did wasn’t reckless, it was just enough to kind of move him out of the way, continue without William crashing. I think guys will probably push the limit harder and harder each week, learn how to bang on each other more and more.”

eNASCAR/iRacing Pro Invitational Series Race – O’Reilly Auto Parts 125

Virtual Texas Motor Speedway

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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 Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet, 130.

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

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

8. (3) John Hunter 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 Ford, 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 Jr., 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.

Did Not Qualify: Spencer Boyd, Derek Kraus, Justin Allgaier, Jeb Burton, Justin Haley, Brennan Poole, Austin Cindric, Sam Mayer, Tyler Ankrum, Kaz Grala, Trevor Bayne, Todd Gilliland, Jesse Iwuji, Chandler Smith, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Stewart Friesen, Joey Gase, Kyle Weatherman, Scott Stenzel, Brandon Brown, Sheldon Creed, Ryan Ellis, Joe Graf, Jr., Christian Eckes, JJ Yeley, Myatt Snider, Chase Briscoe, Harrison Burton

Margin of Victory: 0.050 seconds

Average Speed of Race Winner: 133.776 mph

Caution Flags: Five for 21 laps

Lead Changes: 14 among 9 drivers

Lap Leaders: William Byron 1-17, John Hunter Nemechek 18-20, William Byron 21-40, Denny Hamlin 41-43, Chase Elliott 44, William Byron 45-52, Ryan Preece 53-59, John Hunter Nemechek 60-66, William Byron 67-87, Ryan Preece 88, Ty Majeski 89, Michael McDowell 90-92, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 93-106, William Byron 107-121, Timmy Hill 122-130

Leaders Summary (Driver, Laps Led): William Byron 81, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 14, John Hunter Nemechek 10, Timmy Hill 9, Ryan Preece 8, Denny Hamlin 3, Michael McDowell 3, Chase Elliott 1, Ty Majeski 1.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. He's also covered Idaho Athletics and high school football as both a writer and videographer. Additionally, he spent 2017 writing several racing columns as an independent journalist. Luis does video and photography, and is a fan of Seattle sports, a music critic and a motivator who wants to impact people's lives.