Hemric Steps Into No. 31 Car

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 28 2018

Daniel Hemric takes Ryan Newman’s ride at RCR. (RacinTdoday/HHP file photo by /Ashley R Dickerson)

CONCORD, N.C. – Daniel Hemric is no stranger to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s media center, having spent many evenings in it during the Summer Shootout Series. But Friday’s announcement that he was Ryan Newman’s replacement at Richard Childress Racing left him fighting back tears.

I’m just incredibly humbled and honored to know that all those nights and all those… excuse me I’m going to get all choked up here. That’s what it’s all about, right?” Hemric said as he fought back tears. “I made eye contact with my wife back there and it got me.

“I just think about so many people want to have this opportunity and they work their whole life for it and I think being able to sit up here and be a testament to that and be a testament to what this sport was built off of, of families doing whatever they could to give their kids’ shots.”

Hemric, a Kannapolis, N.C., native was once one of those kids. At age 5, he began racing go-karts at Concord (N.C.) Motorsports Park. For Hemric’s family, racing was a hobby and he thought it would end at age 10. However, there were those who saw his talent and helped him financially. He moved into the Bandolero division, spending a great deal of time at Charlotte in the Summer Shootout Series. He remained there until age 15. Next he focused on Legend cars, winning the 2009 national championship in addition to the Summer Shootout Series title at Charlotte. However, he points to his victory in the track’s 2010 Legends Million event as the boost his career needed. The race was highlighted on SPEED TV (now Fox Sports 1) and it gave Hemric a $250,000 paycheck.

Hemric transitioned into Late Models and Modifieds at age 18. In 2014, he competed in selected PASS North and PASS South Super Late Model races in addition to defending his 2013 Southern Super Series championship. He made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in 2013, but didn’t run a full season until two years later. Last year, in his rookie Xfinity season with RCR, he secured a berth in the playoffs and finished fourth in the standings. After one race in this year’s Xfinity playoffs, he is second in the points.

“To see Daniel, all the racing that he did over here at Charlotte and all the different tracks that he has ran, the Late Models, I think he has proved his self that he is well capable of being here, no different than Dale Earnhardt did in his day,” Childress said. “He has what it takes to become a winner. You’ve got to have heart.  You’ve got to sacrifice.  I know how much sacrifice Daniel and his family has done to get him to where he is today.

“He’s a racer. He’s not somebody that’s been handed anything; he’s been out there and worked for it.”

Hemric said Earnhardt was his childhood hero and Dale Earnhardt Inc. was less than five miles from his Kannapolis home. He also admitted he had “dreamed about racing for (Childress) my entire life.”

“Unbelievable how … that has come full circle and I’m sitting here today and right, wrong or indifferent from a little bit of the same background,” said the 27-year-old Hemric, who once tried to string line the side of a race car at 4 a.m. “Richard touched on it; just having heart and having the desire and the motivation to get up every day when you get knocked down and standing back up and doing it again, that is what this is all about.”

Hemric qualified his No. 8 Chevrolet 11th for Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 and Childress hasn’t ruled out changing the No. 31 to the No. 8 next year due to its Earnhardt family/Kannapolis connection. Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove the No. 8 at DEI and his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, used the number as well.

“I called Dale Jr. and Kelley (Earnhardt Miller) and told them what I was going to do and they thought it was great,” Childress said. “We’ve had it for three or four years … and we just now started using it this year with Daniel. We thought it was a perfect fit; him from Kannapolis, and putting the No. 8 with him.”

Hemric said he hopes his career journey will inspire some racers to be able to “continue to put one foot in front of the other” and trust their decisions.

“If you do that, no matter how it shakes out, you’ll lay down at night knowing you gave everything you had,” Hemric said.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 28 2018
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