For all the talk about NASCAR running on dirt this past weekend at Bristol, I still have not gotten over the sport and FOX’s decision to leave Timmy Hill off the roster for the Pro Invitational. The decision was blundered so badly that the sport was left with egg on their face instead of Hoorag bandanas.
Hill is largely an afterthought on Sunday afternoons in the Cup Series but regular fans know him, if not from the Cup Series, from his adventures in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.
A series which is highlighting the top drivers in NASCAR – racing in a video game – is going to draw interest namely from the most ardent fans. Those are the same fans who know that Timmy Hill won the Texas Motor Speedway virtual race last year and those are the same fans who know that he was the only driver to finish inside the top 10 in every virtual race hosted during the 2020 coronavirus shutdown. In a sport where the best of the best are supposed to be at the top level and a video game would prove to be the great equalizer this would be Hill’s chance to show his stuff.
So naturally NASCAR left him off the roster.
To make matters even worse was that NASCAR even used Hill’s name and likeness to promote the 10-race virtual championship. So when NASCAR unveiled their lineup he was confused to see his name not among the 36 Cup Series cars selected. To make matters worse two drivers who wear headsets inside the announcers booth on race day were selected in Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
No championship was given last year in iRacing but had there been one Hill would have won it. It would not even have been close according to Fansided.
Position – Driver: Points (Behind)
1st – Timmy Hill: 238 (0)
2nd – Garrett Smithley: 206 (-32)
3rd – Denny Hamlin: 189 (-49)
4th – William Byron: 184 (-54)
5th – Landon Cassill: 183 (-55)
Earnhardt Jr. finished 9th, Bowyer 18th.
And if that was not bad enough, then things got even more ridiculous.
Brad Keselowski dropped out in an effort to give his ride to fellow Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric, who comes across as deserving being the 2020 Xfinity Series champion and running a part-time Cup Series scheduled this year.
Then Kevin Harvick dropped dropped out giving his ride to Ryan Preece? Preece is running a full schedule if there is funding but he is not part of Stewart-Haas Racing. In fact he doesn’t even drive the same make of car nor would he even compete in Harvick’s car during the virtual racing instead opting for his JTG Daughtery Racing No. 37. The logic? Preece is managed by Kevin Harvick Incorporated.
So somehow being a part of an organization or being a client of a Cup Series driver makes you eligible to run but winning a virtual race and racking up the most points the prior year is not?
It did not take long for Hill and others to express their disappointment and quickly #LetTimmyRace could be seen all over NASCAR’s social media by fans.
Team Penske then announced that Hill would drive Keselowski’s car for the race. How that helps Hill remains to be seen. Hill didn’t drive his Cup Series car, instead he drove Keselowski’s. So while it was a nice gesture by Team Penske, Keselowski, and Cindric, the real gesture needs to be Hill added to the iRacing roster for the remainder of the season in his No. 66 car.