By Lee Montgomery
NNSracing recently spoke with Timmy Hill, the leader in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Hill is in a tight battle with Blake Koch, leading him by two points with five races remaining in the 2011 season.
Hill, who turned 18 in February, is 17th in the overall Nationwide Series drivers standings. He has a best finish of 11th at Road America this season.Q: How did you approach the year at the start of the season? What was the goal, and has that changed?
Timmy Hill: The beginning of the year, we just wanted to make as many laps as we could. Going into it, we knew everybody wasn't really going to trust me, and I kinda had to prove myself. We still had to go through the approval process to get to the bigger tracks. My main goal was to get laps and show the drivers that even though I was an 18-year-old kid that I was a respectful driver. I was there not to wreck cars but to get the job done and prove that I was going to be there for a long time.
Q: Do you think you've gotten the respect from other drivers?
Hill: We've finished lal but two, but those were from mechanical problems. We haven't wrecked out of any. I've talked to other drivers, and pretty much all of them respect me. They say I've been doing a great job, which that's good to hear. I haven't gotten in any kind of skirmishes throughout the year. For the way we've finished and the way we've run the races, I'd say we've gotten respect from everybody.
Q; How difficult is that? It's easier said than done to make laps and finish races. How do you accomplish those things?
Hill: You can say it, but as soon as you get on the track, you're going 160-170 mph, it makes it a lot more difficult than just saying it. Everything I do on the race track, I'm always thinking 10 steps ahead of what's going to happen when I do it. For me, it's just easier. I see what the outcome's going to be before it happens most of the time. You've just got to realize who you're racing around and what you expect the other drivers to do. It's more just paying attention to who you're around. Normally, history repeats itself with a lot of drivers. If you watch plenty of video and see what they've done in the past, normally they do the same stuff over and over.
Q: This one of the first couple of years in the bigger stock cars.
Hill: Before 2010, all I ran was basically a Legends car and an Allison Legacy car. They're cars that get maybe 100 horsepower. In 2010, I ran seven ARCA races and three of the K&N Pro Series races. Basically, those are the only full-size stock car races with any kind of horsepower, any kind of weight than I ran besides this year.
Q: You've adapted pretty quickly.
Hill: Yeah, for sure.
Q: As the season has gone on, has winning the rookie award become a pretty big deal? Has that become the main goal?
Hill: That's definitely the main goal now. At the beginning of the year, we knew they took the best 16 races, so the first few were just a learning deal. We got through the first couple and started running better and better every week. By week six or seven, we actually took the points lead for rookie of the year. That was a big confidence booster there. From then on, we've continued leading it. Right now, we've still got the lead - by two points. That's definitely the main goal. We're looking at that more than anything for the rest of the year. That would be phenomenal to win that. For a small team, for a rookie driver, for a rookie crew chief, for everything we've got going on over here, that'd be huge.
Q: Do you guys pay any attention to Blake during a race or do you try to do your own deal?
Hill: A lot of times we actually do. It's kind of funny. It seems like every track we go to, we're within one or two spots on the practice chart - same thing for qualifying and same thing for the race. We're normally nose to tail. We're right there with each other pretty much every race.
Q: What would it mean to win the rookie title in the Nationwide Series? Can you put that into words?
Hill: It would be fantastic. It would just show all the hard work. I can't out it into words. But it would put us in the history books, and that can never be broken. It would be really tough for someone to out-do me on the age. If we could win that, I couldn't put it into words how I'd feel.