Hillman-Circle Sport LLC
|Owner(s)||Joe Falk, Mike Hillman, Sr., Gordon Smith|
|Base||Mooresville, North Carolina, United States|
|Series||Sprint Cup Series|
|Car numbers||33. (Circle Sport)
40. (Hillman Smith Motorsports)
|Race drivers||No. 33 Alex Kennedy
No. 40 Landon Cassill
|Sponsors||Little Joe's Autos, Precon Marine
33. Thunder Coal, various
40. carsforsale.com, Newtown Building Supplies, CRC Brakleen, Snap Fitness
|Debut||2012 Samsung Mobile 500 (Texas)|
|Latest race||2015 STP 500 (Martinsville)|
Hillman-Circle Sport LLC is a stock car racing team that currently competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, fielding the No. 33 Chevrolet as Circle Sport in association with RCR, and the No. 40 Chevrolet as Hillman Smith Motorsports. Landon Cassill is the team's primary driver, driving the team's No. 40 since 2014 after driving mainly the 33 in 2013.
Sprint Cup Series
Car No. 33 history
In 2011 Joe Falk, former owner of LJ Racing, returned to team ownership in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, running the No. 50 for LTD Powersports with driver T.J. Bell on a limited basis starting with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Bell competed for Rookie of the Year during the season, but only qualified for five races, four of them with Falk's team, which failed to qualify for nine additional races.
2012 & ROTY
After fielding the #40 Toyota at the 2012 Daytona 500 for Michael Waltrip, prior to the April race at Texas, Falk announced that he was purchasing the No. 33 Sprint Cup Series team from Richard Childress Racing. The team, one Childress had planned to run for only the first five races of the season, was transferred to Falk's ownership after the sixth race at Martinsville Speedway. The team's first race was at Texas, where Tony Raines drove an unsponsored Chevrolet. Falk planned to run a number of drivers in the car, renamed Circle Sport, over the remainder of the season, including Raines, Jeff Green, Stephen Leicht, Austin Dillon, Hermie and Elliott Sadler, and C. E. Falk. However in late May it was announced that Leicht would be competing for the team for the majority of the remainder of the season, attempting to win Rookie of the Year honors, except for the June race at Michigan, where Childress ran the No. 33 for Austin Dillon. Cole Whitt also ran some races in a start-and-park role. Leicht would win Rookie of the Year honors despite competing in just 15 races, finishing with a team-best 26th at Watkins Glen.
For 2013, Circle Sport maintained its alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Former BK Racing driver Landon Cassill took over the No. 33 for the majority of the season with Dillon and Brian Scott in the 33 as an RCR entry. For the road courses, road course ringer Ron Fellows ran the 33 for Circle Sport with sponsorship from Canadian Tire. Following the introduction of the #40 entry, Tony Raines and Landon Cassill would rotate seats in these cars when Circle Sport fielded both the 33 and 40 entries.
The 33 was run as an RCR entry for the first two races of 2014 with Brian Scott and family sponsors Shore Lodge and Whitetail Club. Timmy Hill drove the next two races for Circle Sport. Hill was involved in a controversial wreck at Bristol immediately following an accident. Hill was running in last place, when Matt Kenseth (in second place at the time), checked up for a wreck in front of him. Hill did not see the caution lights and did not cut his speed, smashing into Kenseth's back bumper at high speed. Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip first stated in a harsh tone "Good grief.", and then called it a "rookie mistake" for Hill (who had run for rookie of the year in 2013), though he slightly recanted his harsh tone later in the broadcast.
After Scott drove the 33 at Auto Club as an RCR entry, David Stremme took over the Circle Sport entry at Martinsville, Darlington and Richmond, while failing to qualify at Texas. Scott and RCR ran the car again at Talladega (where Scott won the pole award) and Charlotte, with Hill returning to Circle Sport in between at Kansas. Stremme ran at Dover, Michigan and Kentucky, while Alex Kennedy ran at both Pocono races and the road courses, with more races possible. Bobby Labonte ran an RCR car under the Circle Sport banner at Daytona in July, the same one that sat on the Talladega pole with Scott.
At the Camping World RV Sales 301 at Loudon in July, 72-year-old veteran Morgan Shepherd ran a Circle Sport car with Thunder Coal sponsoring its third race. The 33 team created another controversy when Shepherd wrecked Joey Logano, who was running second at the time. Shepherd was, as Logano pointed out, the slowest car on the racetrack. NASCAR defended Shepherd, saying he maintained a minimum running speed in relation to the leaders. Shepherd finished as the last car running in 39th place, 27 laps down.
Stremme returned to the #33 at Indianapolis with Thunder Coal, but failed to qualify. After Kennedy's previously announced starts at Pocono and Watkins Glen, the team fielded him for a fifth time at Michigan. Stremme then ran Bristol. Ty Dillon drove an RCR entry at Atlanta in August. Dillon had tested a car numbered 33 for Furniture Row Racing at Texas in March.
At Richmond, the #33 was renumbered #90 to honor Junie Donlavey, with Stremme driving. The one-off was painted in the style of Donlavey's Truxmore-sponsored cars and the decklid contained the names of the 67 drivers who raced for Donlavey. Stremme was originally on the entry list at Chicagoland, but was replaced at the last minute by Travis Kvapil. Stremme ran New Hampshire and Dover, after which Hill returned for the second Kansas race and Charlotte. Stremme was again placed on the entry list at Talladega before being replaced by Kvapil, who delivered the #33 its first top ten finish (sixth, tying a career-best mark for Kvapil as well) under the Circle Sport banner on the same day Cassill piloted the #40 to the overall team's first top five. Kvapil would run Martinsville as well, with Hill returning again for Texas, in the final race of 2014 for the #33 under the Circle Sport banner.
RCR returned for the final two races of the season with Ty Dillon at Phoenix and Brian Scott at Homestead.
RCR entered the #33 in the first three races of the season, with Ty Dillon at Daytona and Brian Scott at Atlanta and Las Vegas, however HScott Motorsports would take over the Atlanta entry after Michael Annett failed to qualify his normal HSM ride (owner points still went to the #33).
Circle Sport had the #33 for the first time at Phoenix, with road racer Alex Kennedy driving.
Car No. 40 history
Falk and Hillman partnered to field a #40 Aaron's Toyota for Michael Waltrip at the 2012 Daytona 500, however the team failed to qualify. The #40 team also entered Bristol with Tony Raines, but withdrew. Hillman and Falk then bought the points of RCR's #33 car before the Texas race, and used that number instead, fielding Chevrolets. The #40 was not seen again until July 2013, when, beginning at Indianapolis, Circle Sport, again in association with Hillman Racing, began fielding a second car in Sprint Cup Series competition; the #40. This move allowed Landon Cassill and Circle Sport to compete in races in which Austin Dillon or Brian Scott was scheduled to run the No. 33 with RCR. Later, the team began entering the #40 during races when it also entered the #33. Tony Raines and Cassill rotated seats in each entry.
Cassill's best finish of the year was 22nd at the spring Talladega race, while the best finish for Raines was 29th at the fall Kansas race.
For 2014, Cassill was named the primary driver of the team's number 40 car, starting the season with a 12th place finish at the Daytona 500. He then failed to qualify for the next two races, but made every race after for the rest of the year, which included his and the team's first top five (and top ten) finish, a fourth at the GEICO 500 at Talladega. In that same race, teammate Kvapil finished 6th in the 33. Carsforsale.com, Newtown Building Supplies, and CRC Brakleen have sponsored several races.
Cassill returns for his third season in the #40. On February 12, businessman Gordon Smith joined the team as co-owner, and the #40 team was rebranded as Hillman Smith Motorsports. The team got off to a bad start, becoming the first team to finish last in the first two races after back-to-back engine failures.
|T. J. Bell||4||0||0||9||0|
Camping World Truck Series
It was announced in January 2012 that former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton would run the Daytona Camping World Truck Series race for Hillman Racing's No. 27 Chevrolet Silverado, after being out of competition for 5 years. Burton would be joined by State Water Heaters, which had sponsored him in the Sprint Cup Series with Morgan-McClure Motorsports. Ward's 19-year old son Jeb Burton (not approved to run at Superspeedways) would then take over the truck for select races beginning with his series debut at Martinsville Speedway in March. The new team would use the equipment from Richard Childress Racing that took Austin Dillon to a series championship in 2011. Ward drove the truck to an 8th place finish in his only start. Jeb would then run the next 5 races, finishing 13th in his debut, 11th at Rockingham, and a strong 8th at Charlotte. The team also would enter a second #25 truck in several races, with 6 DNFs. Brandon Knupp, C.E. Falk, B.J. McLeod, Travis Miller, Stephen Leicht, and Ryan Lynch would all run races for the team. Cole Whitt would drive the 27 to a solid 13th-place finish at Talladega. 20-year old Ryan Truex was then signed to drive the 27 (the team's tenth driver of the season) beginning at Martinsville in October. Ryan finished 17th in his truck series debut, then returned two races later at Phoenix, finishing 11th. Veteran driver Jason Leffler would wheel the 27 truck in the season finale at Homestead, with Travis Miller returning in 25 Truck. Leffler would finish 19th, while Miller finished 26th.
For 2013, Hillman Racing merged its efforts with Team 7 Motosports, who fielded the 70 truck in 2012. Team 7's driver, 47-year old Pro Cup Series Champion Jeff Agnew was signed to drive for the team beginning at Daytona in February. In May, the team announced a partnership with the West Virginia Coal Association and Friends of Coal beginning at Charlotte. The team entered 17 races (withdrawing from two) and scored 11 top 25 finishes, with a best finish of 15th at Kentucky.
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- "West Virginia Coal Association & Friends of Coal Partner with Hillman Racing". friendsofcoal.org. Concord, North Carolina: Friends of Coal. May 16, 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2014.