Sunday, February 28, 2021

CUP: Electrical gremlins leave Timmy Hill with one pound of fuel pressure at Homestead

PHOTO: @WookieAutomoTV

Timmy Hill picked up the 15th last-place finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when his #66 Motorsports Business Management Toyota fell out with electrical issues after 21 of 267 laps.

The finish, which came in Hill’s 130th series start, was his first of the year and first since October 11, 2020 on the Charlotte “Roval,” seven races ago. In the Cup Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 40th from electrical issues, the 62nd for the #66, and the 168th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 80th for the #66, the 130th for electrical issues, and the 351st for Toyota.

It’s already been a big year for Hill, who’s now a father after his wife Lucy gave birth to their first son, Hudson Grant Hill, on February 22nd. On the track, the defending LASTCAR Cup Series Champion has continued his efforts to compete in all three of NASCAR’s top series. Just last week on the Daytona road course, Hill drove his #56 Chevrolet to a 9th-place finish – already the fourth top-ten finish for the Hill Motorsports team. And with Carl Long’s team Motorsports Business Management, Hill bounced back from a DNQ in the Daytona 500 to run 20th in the XFINITY race, leading four laps in the process, then took 29th in Sunday’s Cup race.

Off the track, Hill’s wife Lucy gave birth to their first son, Hudson Grant Hill, on February 22nd.

Hill would run both Cup and XFINITY at Homestead, each time in one of MBM’s deep blue Toyotas. On the XFINITY side, where teammate David Starr’s flat tire cost him a 12th-place finish, Hill crossed the line in 17th, then took 16th after Tyler Reddick’s disqualification. This was Hill’s best-ever XFINITY finish at the Homestead track, improving on his 21st for Rick Ware Racing back in 2011.

For Sunday, Hill’s unsponsored #66 earned the 33rd spot on the grid.

Rolling off 38th was last week’s last-place finisher Quin Houff, whose StarCom Racing #00 Chevrolet picked up new sponsorship from 8 Ball Premium Chocolate Whiskey. He’d be joined at the rear by four drivers who incurred pre-race penalties. Unapproved adjustments were cited for 13th-place Alex Bowman in the #48 Ally Bank Chevrolet, 25th-place Corey LaJoie in the #7 Marwin Sports Apparel Chevrolet, and polesitter Denny Hamlin in the #11 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Toyota. James Davison also incurred a tail-end penalty after his unsponsored #15 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing failed inspection twice. Ultimately, by the time the field addressed the starter’s stand, Hill had dropped behind all of them to take over the 40th spot.

When the race started, Hill’s spotter reported a car ahead of him was against the outside wall. This was likely B.J. McLeod, whose #78 / Motorsport Games Ford soon pulled down pit road, taking over last place as the leaders began Lap 2. The crew changed tires and looked under the hood, finding that the belt had come off the power steering pump. McLeod returned to the track, unable to keep the car in the high lane, and discussed with his crew whether the repair could be made on pit road or in the garage. By then, he was already two laps down and on the verge of going down a third.

By Lap 10, Hill had dropped to 37th, two laps down, after a green-flag stop of his own. Engine trouble appeared to be the issue, though like McLeod, the crew got him back on the track during the opening run. NASCAR’s competition caution fell on Lap 25, when McLeod dropped Hill to last place. The yellow allowed both drivers to come in for repairs. While McLeod originally planned to get repairs done on pit road, both he and Hill pulled behind the wall on Lap 26. On Lap 28, McLeod’s repair was done first, and he returned to pit road for tires and fuel.

As for Hill, the team hooked up the computer to the car and tried to diagnose what now appeared to be an electrical issue. On Lap 31, Hill fired the engine, but was told to shut it off again as the car reported no fuel pressure. By Lap 38, the team indicated no water pressure and no oil pressure, either. At one point, the car indicated just one pound of fuel pressure. On Lap 52, NASCAR’s garage official reported “66 out, electrical.”

Finishing 37th was James Davison, who after his tail-end penalty had just lost a lap when his engine blew down the backstretch. Corey LaJoie also suffered an engine failure after the halfway point, leaving him 36th. Last-place starter Quin Houff took 35th with B.J. McLeod rounding out the Bottom Five, both of them nine laps down.

Michael McDowell’s streak of top-ten finishes continued with a strong 6th-place finish on Sunday, putting him sixth in the series standings, just 29 out of the lead held by Denny Hamlin. Next week’s race in Las Vegas has historically been a challenge for McDowell, who has run well, only to suffer mechanical issues. He currently has three last-place finishes in the spring race, most recently in 2018

*Hill is the fourth different driver to finish last in a Cup race at Homestead driving the #66, joining Darrell Waltrip (1999), Mike Bliss (2010), and Michael McDowell (2011). Bliss was also the most recent driver to finish last in this race due to electrical issues when, on November 18, 2012, his #19 Plinker Tactical Toyota dropped out after 16 laps.

38) #66-Timmy Hill / 21 laps / electrical
37) #15-James Davison / 61 laps / engine
36) #7-Corey LaJoie / 151 laps / engine
35) #00-Quin Houff / 258 laps / running
34) #78-B.J. McLeod / 258 laps / running

1st) Motorsports Business Management, Rick Ware Racing, StarCom Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (2)
2nd) Toyota (1)


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