Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – OSWEGO, NY – Be the best of the freshman. That was the goal Chris Hile set when he declared to run the full Super DIRTcar Series tour in 2020.
Unfortunately, a worldwide pandemic put a pause on that goal for over 600 days.
Then, on a blustery November evening last month in the heart of NASCAR country, Hile cemented his place in the DIRTcar record books by officially being named the Series’ Rookie of the Year for 2021.
The Oswego, NY driver’s season on tour was highlighted by a second place finish to Stewart Friesen in the Centennial 102 at the Orange County Fair Speedway on August 12th. That along with three additional top five’s and six more top 10’s propelled Hile to ninth in series points when the season had concluded.
What did he learn during his first season of traveling with the series that he can parley into 2022?
“We just gained a lot of experience out on the road in 21,” Hile said. “In Central New York, we race a lot of local tracks but to get on the track with all of these good racers helped me as a driver.”
What was it like being on the road, going to several new tracks?
“To get on the road and travel with everyone and have the comradery with them was a lot of fun,” he said. “We look forward to doing it again that’s for sure.”
Being the Super DIRTcar Series’ top rookie has to be a big feather in Hile’s cap, though.
“To work as hard as this team does, as a family unit, and to have the success that we did this year is pretty neat,” he said. “We look forward to building on it for next year and hopefully we can be successful again.”
The “Hile Driver” also had a solid season at his Friday night home, the Brewerton Speedway, where he collected three big feature wins, six top five’s and only finished out of the top 10 on one occasion. That led to a solid third in points at the D-Shaped Dirt Demon.
One of the bright spots of the season for Hile and company was setting quick time during the two-race Super DIRTcar Series “Bristol Throwdown” in April at the Bristol Motor Speedway. How cool was it to accomplish that feat and run at such a prestigious facility?
“It was a really cool way to start off the season for us,” he said. “We might have struggled a little bit in the features (15th on night one and 20th on night two), but to have that award that we can hold on to at home, it was pretty neat to start everything off.”
Now Hile’s focus shifts to 2022 and a return to Super DIRTcar Series with hopes to improve on his success last season.
Maybe, just maybe, he’ll visit victory lane and be a contender for the series crown. He’s got the tools to make it happen. He also has the confidence, so it’s a strong possibility.