FORT WORTH, Texas – Noted iRacer Timmy Hill shocked the NASCAR elite on national television Sunday to win the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway.
Hill, who drivers for Carl Long’s MBM Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series in real life, wasn’t a factor in the beginning of the race, but worked his way forward in the latter stages of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 to put himself in position to strike.
He got the chance to do just that when the caution waved with 16 laps left in the 125-lap event, for an incident involving Daniel Suarez.
That brought all the leaders down pit road for tires and fuel, with Hill coming off pit road second behind William Byron, who qualified on the pole and dominated the race by leading a race-high 81 laps.
Byron got away on an initial restart with 11 to go, but a quick caution for the crashed car of Clint Bowyer forced another yellow and set Hill up alongside Byron again with five to go.
Though Byron got the jump on the initial green flag, Hill tucked in behind and made his move the next time around, nudging Byron up the track in turn one with four laps left in regulation and bringing Garrett Smithley along for the ride to second.
It looked like it would be those two to settle it, but a caution coming to two to go – after Parker Kligerman and John Hunter Nemechek got together exiting turn four – forced an overtime restart and left Hill playing defense from all sides when the green waved again.
Ultimately, it was Ryan Preece who got underneath Smithley for second on the final restart and drafted up to Hill’s back bumper, but not even a well-placed look to the inside by Preece coming off turn four to the checkers could stop Hill from rolling into victory lane.
In a photo finish at the stripe, Hill edged out Preece by .050 seconds for the huge win.
“Hey, how about that?” said Hill after the race. “That was exciting. I can’t believe it. It was such a fun race there. I had to do a little boot-scootin’ boogie here in Texas with (Byron), but glad to pull the victory off for Roof Claim, MBM Motorsports, everybody back home.”
Sunday marked Hill’s 674th career win on the iRacing platform in his 1,677th start on the simulation, but was arguably the biggest moment of his racing life – real or virtual.
“It means so much,” said Hill of his win and the attention the virtual races have brought. “I’ve got a tremendous amount of fans and friends, family, who have all reached out to me and really congratulated me for the recognition we’ve been getting. Our team, myself, and our sponsors, a lot of time we don’t get that recognition, so to finally kind of capitalize on that and pull off a win here in iRacing, I’m glad that iRacing and Fox and NASCAR are really letting us do this, because it’s a tremendous feeling.
“The amount of messages I’ve already gotten; my phone is blowing up. I see we’re trending on Twitter, and it’s just a really nice feeling. I’ve been in the sport for 10 years, this is my 10th season in NASCAR, so this is a win. It’s really neat to get this and hopefully we can pull some wins off when we go back racing in the real world.”
Smithley hung on to finish third, followed by Landon Cassill and Alex Bowman.
Homestead runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth, followed by Byron, who was shuffled back to seventh after the late restarts. John Hunter Nemechek led 10 laps en route to eighth, with Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch completing the top 10 at the finish.
A much cleaner race Sunday only saw five caution flags for 21 laps, with the first yellow not even coming out until lap 27 for an incident that collected Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and Michael McDowell.
Following the second yellow of the day at lap 39 for the crashing car of Anthony Alfredo in turn three, the race went green until 16 to go, when Suarez’s issues sparked the run to the finish.
Sunday’s race was broadcast on FOX and FS1 in the United States, as well as in 165 countries worldwide thanks to NASCAR’s international broadcast partners.
The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series continues on April 5 at the virtual Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
1. Timmy Hill , 2. Ryan Preece , 3. Garrett Smithley , 4. Landon Cassill , 5. Alex Bowman , 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. , 7. William Byron , 8. John Hunter Nemechek , 9. Kyle Larson , 10. Kurt Busch , 11. Clint Bowyer , 12. Parker Kligerman , 13. Bobby Labonte , 14. Michael McDowell , 15. Matt DiBenedetto , 16. Ty Dillon , 17. Kyle Busch , 18. Chris Buescher , 19. Jimmie Johnson , 20. Chase Elliott , 21. Erik Jones , 22. Ross Chastain , 23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , 24. Denny Hamlin , 25. Bubba Wallace , 26. Alex Labbe , 27. Ryan Blaney , 28. Tyler Reddick , 29. Austin Dillon , 30. Ty Majeski , 31. Ruben Garcia Jr. , 32. Greg Biffle , 33. Daniel Suarez , 34. Christopher Bell , 35. Anthony Alfredo .
Lead Changes: 14 among nine different drivers
Lap Leader(s): 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.
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.
Caution Flags: Five for 21 laps.
Margin of Victory: .050 seconds
Average Speed: 133.776 mph