Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., driver of the No. 6 Blackwell Angus/Cargill Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing, and Timmy Hill, behind the wheel of No. 15 Poynt.com Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing, have more than just driving for the same manufacturer in common.
[media-credit id=62 align=”alignright” width=”237″][/media-credit]Both young, up and coming drivers are pursuing their NASCAR dreams, one for a Nationwide championship and the other for the youngest ever Nationwide Rookie of the Year title.
Stenhouse Jr., who won the Nationwide ROTY honors last year, is 23 years old while Hill is just 18 years of age, with his highest achievement being the Allison Legacy Series Championship.
For Stenhouse, the achievement of the NASCAR Nationwide championship would be a dream come true.
“It would mean a lot,” Stenhouse said. “It would definitely be my biggest accomplishment ever in my racing career.”
“After the way last year went, struggling so bad the first part of the year and turning it around at the end of the year, it really makes you appreciate where we are right now as a race team,” Stenhouse continued.
“We came into the year thinking that we were gonna be able to run for it and now that we’ve got six races left and have a shot at it, it’s exactly where we need to be.”
Similarly for Hill, the Nationwide Rookie of the Year title would be just as good as the championship would be to Stenhouse, Jr. And if he won those coveted rookie honors, Hill would make history as the youngest ROTY at the tender age of 18 years.
“It would be awesome for me to be the youngest one to do it,” Hill said. “We just hoped at this time in the year to have a shot at the Rookie of the Year and everything has worked out.”
“We’re leading now by just two points.”
For both drivers, achieving their respective dreams will be tough, especially with the level of competition. Stenhouse, Jr. is battling veteran Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, for the Nationwide title, while Hill is battling Blake Koch, driver of the No. 81 DayStar.com Dodge, for the ROTY honors.
“I think you have to be on your game,” Stenhouse, Jr. said. “You have to go out and try to win because Elliott Sadler is not gonna finish outside of the top 10.”
“So, you’ve got to do something better to beat him in this championship.”
“It’s close,” Hill echoed. “Blake has been right there and we’ve been right beside each other almost every race.”
“It’s a real tight battle, but hopefully we can hang on to it,” Hill continued. “We hope to finish that deal out.”
Both dream chasing drivers share a very similar background, having started in go-kart racing, as well as continuing through the ARCA ReMax Racing Series. Hill, in particular, has racing in his blood from watching his father, Jerry Hill, race in the Truck Series for many years.
“My dad ran Truck Series and the Busch Series back then, Nationwide Series now,” Hill said. “He ran a full season of Trucks in 2003 and that was his last season.”
“I kept bugging him when I was a kid that I wanted to race,” Hill continued. “Finally he said OK and he put me in a go kart and let me try it out.”
“The first race, I loved it and I was instantly hooked.”
One interesting thing that the two drivers on their dream quests share, however, is actually a person. Both have ties to Cup Chase contender Carl Edwards.
For Stenhouse, Jr. his tie to Carl is that of teammates both seeking a championship. As Stenhouse chases the Nationwide championship, he is also cognizant of getting Edwards, in the No. 60 Fastenal Ford, the owner championship for Jack Roush.
“Jamie Allison from Ford came in this week and we’ve got a lot of things going,” Stenhouse, Jr. said. “We’re obviously going for the driver’s championship.”
“We’ve got to get Carl the owner’s championship and then we’ve got to get Ford the manufacturer’s championship,” Stenhouse continued. “Ford is putting a lot of effort into it and we’ve got a lot of things to accomplish this year and I think we can do it as a race team.”
For Hill, Carl Edwards is not teammate but hero.
“A guy I like to pattern myself after is Carl Edwards,” Hill said. “He handles himself real well and I like the way he treats his fans.”
“Almost everything he does I like to pattern myself after.”
The two young up and comers also share one unfortunate aspect to their careers. They both are uncertain of what their future holds.
“Right now, my biggest focus is this Nationwide championship,” Stenhouse, Jr. said. “I think I’ve always said after running a couple of years in Nationwide I would like to run maybe a partial schedule or something just to kind of get my feet wet.”
“But I don’t want to jump into things too quick.”
“I may go to college next year,” Hill said, who just graduated high school. “I just want to focus on racing. I just want to keep my focus right now on the Rookie of the Year battle.”
So, for now, both Stenhouse, Jr. and Hill realize that the road to achieving their dreams runs straight through the Monster Mile at Dover this weekend. Not unexpectedly, both drivers are confident that they will conquer the concrete track.
“For us, every time I’ve come to Dover, we’ve had a better finish,” Stenhouse, Jr. said. “We finished fourth the last race here and had a really fast Mustang.”
“I think, obviously, we’ll have a good race here.”
“This is my second time here since the spring race,” Hill said. “So, we’ve got the experience and we’ve got the feel.”
“The banking and the way it drops off makes it a monster,” Hill continued. “It’s a wild ride.”