NASCAR drivers and fans circled this week on the calendar when the 2021 schedule was announced. For the first time in 50 years, NASCAR is racing on dirt. As part of the build-up to the Bristol race this weekend, FS1 is broadcasting the season-opening Pro Invitational Series iRacing event at Bristol this week that features most of the Cup Series drivers, plus Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
Timmy Hill, who raced in every Cup race the last two seasons and had considerable success in the 2020 iRacing events, including a win at Texas, was surprisingly left off the list. Hill expressed his disappointment on Twitter. Many NASCAR fans did the same all over social media. The groundswell of support worked, and Hill is now officially part of the festivities.
Timmy Hill excluded from Bristol iRacing event
Since the beginning of the 2021 NASCAR season, Fox has heavily promoted the dirt race in Bristol. In recent weeks, the network has also started to promote the iRacing event to be held on the same dirt track tonight and broadcast on FS1.
This week the lineup for the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series 2021 season opener at Bristol was announced. There was one notable omission. Timmy Hill, who has raced for the past two seasons on the Cup Series, was not included.
Hill was understandably disappointed and took to Twitter to express his feelings.
“Compete in every cup event the last 2 seasons and the only cup driver that was left out… stings a bit,” he posted.
Timmy Hill has a successful iRacing track record
While some might attribute Timmy Hill’s unhappiness to a feeling of being left out, it’s actually much more serious than that. Hill won the iRacing event last season at Texas. He finished in the top three in six of the seven races. In other words, on a level playing field with the other top NASCAR drivers, the underfunded Hill was more than competitive.
As a result of being excluded, Hill told Frontstretch that MBM Motorsports would miss actual Cup Series races due to a lack of funding they had planned on receiving as part of the national exposure from the Pro Invitational Series.
“We try to package our real-life racing to the Pro Invitational,” Hill said. “We kind of really leveraged [that to sponsors], because we try to really package it all together.”
Team Penske steps up and Hill gets a ride
After the lineup for the Bristol iRacing event was announced and Timmy Hill posted his response to the situation on Twitter, NASCAR fans responded. Many couldn’t understand how someone who had performed so well in last year’s iRacing events and had been a regular competitor for the last two seasons on the Cup Series would be excluded.
Of the 40 spots available, 36 were guaranteed to the charter teams. Fox could select the other four spots and opted to use only two on Dale Earnhardt Jr. and former driver-turned-Fox broadcaster Clint Bowyer. Two of the spots were still available.
After considerable pushback and a groundswell of support on various social media platforms, Hill announced on Wednesday he would be racing in the Bristol event thanks to Team Penske. Austin Cindric, who was scheduled to substitute for Brad Keselowski, decided to step aside. Hill will be driving the No. 2 car.
While it’s unfortunate that Timmy Hill was initially excluded from the event, Team Penske saved the day, and more than likely saved Hill’s season behind the real wheel on the Cup Series.