An interview with: Timmy Hill
THE MODERATOR: Joining us up here now is Timmy Hill, and he is the 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. And he drives the No. 15 Point Lilly Trucking Ford. Timmy, congratulations on this award. Congratulations on this honor. I'm told it came down to you and Jason.
TIMMY HILL: I think it was real close between me and Blake --
THE MODERATOR: Right, Blake and whoever had the highest finish in today's race was going to be the Rookie of the Year, and you prevailed, so congratulations on that. Talk about that.
TIMMY HILL: Yes. Between me and Blake throughout the entire season, we've normally been within one or two spots of each other. It's been a real tough battle. We've got about the same equipment. We drive mostly on different teams, so it's been a lot tougher.
But Blake and I had a really exciting battle throughout the whole season. It came down to where we were tied up going into this race. The one point is what decided the race, and we were able to pull off the 21st place finish tonight, and that's real good for our team. I'm excited about it.
Q. Timmy, a lot of stuff was on the line in this race. Can you talk a little bit about what -- it was so close between you and Blake, what accomplishing this today means for you but also for your team because they had something at stake in this race today, too.
TIMMY HILL: You know, for myself this is a huge stat on the résumé. This is something that I really looked forward to doing. You can look and Ricky Stenhouse was a past Rookie of the Year, and he went on to win the next championship. It gives you something to look up for for the team.
This is something we've pulled together for the whole year to accomplish. We had bad times, good times, but through all that we pulled together. It just feels good that you can accomplish something at this altitude that is incredible to do.
Q. Have you had a chance to get with your dad after the end of the race and winning this award, and through his racing career, how much were you around when he was doing his different aspects of racing?
TIMMY HILL: I did. I gave my dad a huge hug after the race. He gives me advice all the time. I'm glad that he was mainly here for all the three races. I was glad that he can pretty much be there for my whole season and experience it with me.
You know, growing up I'd always go to my dad's races, but I'd always bug him, you know, so I could start racing. Finally at age 9 he let me drive a go-kart. That's how my career started. As soon as I started, he quit so he could help us, and I can only thank him so much for helping me out through my entire career.
Q. How much did you think you had a chance at this award at the start of the year, and what do you think you kind of learned the most throughout the year?
TIMMY HILL: The start of the season, I knew the five rookies going into it were going to be tough. There was Ryan Truex. There was Blake Koch. That's the two it came down to between myself and the other two.
Honestly, I had no idea. I just wanted to have a chance at the end of the season to be there. Before this I only had ten starts in a full-sized stock car. It was kind of nerve-racking. I had to miss the first race of the season because I wasn't old enough, so I went to Phoenix was my first race and hit practice, and I found out pretty quickly it was going to be pretty tough. We weren't the fastest as we wanted to be.
But each race we got better and better. After each race we've click off rookie of the race and my chance at getting the Rookie of the Year seemed like it got better and better and I think we ended up leading the Rookie of the Year battle for 27 weeks straight, which is incredible.
It came down to being tied up and being able to win by one point, but at the beginning of the season I had no idea, and I just wanted to have a chance. By the middle of the season I felt like we had a really good chance of getting it, and here we are. I got it.
Q. I know you just won this award, but is it too early to think about what's the plan for next year?
TIMMY HILL: We already settled out that we're going to run the No. 15 again with Rick Rarer Racing, point.com, they came up for the last ten races of the season. They're going to be a primary sponsor for us. It's a great company. Everybody is teaming up along with Lilly Trucking.
So it looks like a full schedule for next year. It's going to be good for us, and hopefully we can be like Ricky Stenhouse did and be the next champion. That would be a good thing to do.
THE MODERATOR: Timmy, congratulations on being the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. Much deserved. Congratulations. Enjoy this honor.