2019 was set to be Daniel Hemric‘s big break, his rookie season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Fast forward two months, the season hasn’t gone as planned.
Hemric, 28, has an average finish of 27.2 through the opening eight races of the season, with a best outing of 18th at ISM Raceway. In the four races since Phoenix, the No. 8 team has a best finish of 27th, with three finishes of 30th or worse.
It’s not for a lack of speed. Hemric has three top-11 qualifying starts this season, and his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon won the pole at Auto Club Speedway. Whether it’s been getting caught up in other’s messes or having miscues of his own, it’s gotten to the point where Hemric has asked fans to send him good luck charms.
“It’s just been a matter to fall back on the things that got me through times like this in my life,” Hemric said on Friday (April 12) at Richmond Raceway. “This is definitely one of the harder moments because you kind of got to regroup and redo it all over again, so it’s such a quick timeframe.
“Some of the other series I’ve ran, you have more time to dwell or rebuild on whatever situation and so it’s kind of a good thing, bad thing. You have to turn it around really quick and flip it around.”
In the past, Dillon has faced similar issues. Currently, the No. 3 team sits 18th in points, two markers behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who sits on the cutline. At this time two years ago, Dillon got off to a slow start, sitting 21st in points with four finishes of 20th or worse.
Though having a rough go of it early in his rookie campaign, Hemric has leaned on Dillon and team owner Richard Childress for advice, believing his luck will turn around soon.
“Very heavily. I don’t look at Austin as just a teammate, he’s family to me,” Hemric stated. “I guess it was after Texas I reached out after him as well as RC [Childress] and asked them both, ‘Man, this is probably the bottom for me. I got to know which way to go here.’ They said just keep putting your best foot forward and leaning on guys like that who have experienced the same struggles at times and came out on the other side with success, that’s all the motivation you need.
” As long as they stay patient with me, they are giving me time to be patient with myself, and it’s helping I think turn the corner. It’s just a matter of seeing it actually result in results. Once we get to that point, I think we’ll be just fine.”
As the season progresses, Hemric wants to find the balance with the No. 8 team, as it’s the first time in his brief NASCAR career that he’s been consistently inconsistent.
Hemric continued: “At times, the speed has been fine. Just haven’t been able to maintain the balance throughout the course of an entire race. The racetracks are obviously going through a big change, but even when we’ve had the speed, I haven’t felt like me and my race car drives like a top-five or top-10 capable of car. We’ve had a couple of them where if everything went right, Atlanta, maybe, could have been a top five. Probably our best finish of the year if things go right there, but outside of that one run we’ve probably had an 11th-, 12th-, 15th-place car at best .
“As a driver, myself and Austin have to be the leaders to trend this thing in the right direction. We’ve tried a couple of things the last couple weeks that have allowed us to hone in on that and hopefully that’s what we’re doing.”
It was one year ago this weekend Hemric made his Cup Series debut at Richmond. The No. 8 took the checkered flag in 32nd.
About the author
Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.