DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Timmy Hill is having himself a Speedweeks.
The personal run of mini victories started in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2, where Hill earned a bid into the NASCAR Cup Series’ Daytona 500 for the first time in his career. It then extended into the Xfinity Series’ NASCAR Racing Experience 300, as Hill pulled off a career-best third-place finish.
“I just feel like this year is kicking off on a great note,” Hill said Saturday. “Making the Daytona 500 on Thursday was awesome. I didn’t think it could get any better. Third place was a nice finish. I thought we could’ve had a shot at the win.”
It looked like it. Ultimately, Noah Gragson won the Xfinity Series’ season opener.
There was a late-race caution on Lap 115 of 120. The field went back to green with three laps to go. As the white flag came out, though, Gragson led with Harrison Burton closing in behind him. Hill was actually pushing Burton.
“We were tight, like backed up to each other really tight,” Burton said. “He did a good job of pushing. We just needed an extra corner, an extra two corners.”
Said Hill: “My goal was to push him out front. Then, if we could have raced together for the win, that would have been awesome.”
Neither driver has won a race in any of NASCAR’s national series.
Second place was a new best for Burton, too. This is his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series, and a runner-up showing already places him high in the early championship standings. He’s in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
“If we get points, that’s good, but we’re here to win races,” Burton said. “So bummed out that didn’t happen, but at the end of the day, we can go home with our car in one piece and be happy about that.”
Hill, meanwhile, is eligible for points in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
Before the Xfinity Series’ qualifying session, Hill’s No. 66 MBM Motorsports Ford team was hit with a L2-level penalty for manipulating bodywork on the nose of the car. It was fined $50,000 and docked 75 points in the Xfinity team owner standings. Crew chief Sebastian Laforge was suspended six races, including Saturday’s event.
“It’s going to be tough for the next few races,” Hill said. “A third-place finish will help us purse wise to pay that money back. That blow this morning was a hurt, but this is a nice way to kind of bounce back from that.”
There’s also Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Hill will steer another No. 66 MBM Motorsports Ford as one of four competitors who had to race their way into the 40-driver field. The other 36 were guaranteed spots because of team charters.
Hill is now more than ready for “The Great American Race” at the 2.5-mile track.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m on career high right now,” Hill said. “I want to keep riding this wave, and I can’t wait to continue on.”