|Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs|
After failing to qualify for last week's race in Phoenix, Hill rebounded in storybook style. Going out third for qualifying, Hill laid down a lap of 29.53 seconds, 182.877 mph and immediately locked himself into the "big show."
Hill, the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year decided to progress into the Sprint Cup series with the backing of sponsor Poynt.com and team owner Rick Ware. The goal? Back-to-back Rookie of the Year titles.
Rick Ware Racing, known as "the biggest little team in motorsports" has a lot to prove with Hill. For their small team, competing against the likes of Hendrick, Roush and Gibbs is a tall order to face, but the never-give-up attitude of RWR is hard to beat. With a 2011 season-best finish of 11th (Road America), Hill will be facing stiff competition in the Cup Series.
In a period where many established and winning drivers ( like Cup champion Matt Kenseth and Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne) struggle for sponsorship dollars for the top tier, for Hill's sponsor Poynt to put their money behind him speaks volumes about Hill and the Rick Ware organization.
Hill took to Facebook, saying "WE MADE THE RACE! I will make my first Sprint Cup series start this weekend at Vegas! So proud of everyone & thanks Poynt for all the support! Everyone at Rick Ware Racing should hold their heads high because all the hard work has paid off! Can't wait to race on Sunday!!!"
Starting the race in 42nd position, Hill will undoubtedly have a learning curve when he takes the checkered flag for the Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday, but then again - every driver was once a young rookie and knows the feelings that he is experiencing. Besides, there are 43 drivers in the field, so Hill will take the green flag ahead of veteran David Stremme.
And somewhere, Dave Mitchell is smiling.