Mike Neff · Wednesday October 30, 2013
Daniel Hemric has been climbing the racing ladder for quite some time. He started out in go karts at the age of five, winning a title at Concord Speedway on the quarter-mile track. He moved on to racing karts on dirt, occasionally using a doctored birth certificate to meet minimum age requirements. Despite early success, though when he got to the age of 16, it looked like he might be out of racing. But the young driver got a break with Tim Ladyga, a financial partnership that jumpstarted his Legends racing career. The zenith of that Legends career, in addition to a national title, was his victory in the Legends Million. In the biggest Legends race in history, Hemric bested the best in the sport and took home a $250,000 winner’s purse. While he continues to race Legends cars to keep sharp, he has gone on to win the CRA Late Model title in 2012 and is battling with Bubba Pollard for the 2013 Southern Super Series title.
Saturday, Hemric made his Camping World Truck Series debut and, unfortunately suffered a mechanical failure in his transmission just three laps into the race. While the team repaired the car and got him back on track, completing the event it was a disappointing outcome to say the least. He is hoping to get another race in this season and is working on developing his career further next year. On Saturday, he took some time with Frontstretch to talk about how this whole thing evolved.
Mike Neff: For the fans who don’t know, who is Daniel Hemric and where did he come from?
Daniel Hemric: Just a kid from Kannapolis with a big racing dream and hopefully taking another step here at Martinsville toward completely fulfilling that dream.
Neff: Those fans that are fans of the sport realize you are the driver who won the only Legends Million that was ever contested. That win was worth $250,000 for you. What have you been doing in your racing career since that win?
Hemric: I’ve been trying to make an impression on the Late Model world. We’ve had a lot of luck and have been able to win a bunch of races. Trying to surround myself with good people throughout the whole deal which has led us to this deal with Sharp-Gallaher Racing this weekend.
Neff: You were the champion of the CRA tour last year?
Hemric: Yes, we won the JEGS tour last season.
Neff: Are you leading the Southern Super Series this year?
Hemric: Yes, Bubba Pollard and I have been going back and forth all year. I’m actually second to him right now going into our last race of the year next weekend at Nashville for the All-American 400.
Neff: How did this deal come together with Eddie Sharp?
Hemric: Really had a lot of different people that wanted to pitch in to try and see me take this step, see if we could run with it. We didn’t have one person step up and make it happen; it was a combination of some really good people. It is awesome to have the opportunity from SGR, Eddie Sharp and Bill Gallaher. The opportunity itself is really big for my family.
Neff: How did you get hooked up with Eddie Sharp? Is it just a case where you’re a racer, he’s a racer and you just found each other?
Hemric: Eddie is definitely a racer and you like to surround yourself with people like that who know where the sport came from — the true meaning of it. Austin Dillon got me hooked up with Eddie and said we needed to try and work something out. From that point, it kind of snowballed and we were able to get ECR to help us out with a motor through Austin’s relationship with RCR. Then, once we told them we had a Truck and everything to do it right we got Jack Link’s to jump on the quarterpanels. We got Valvoline to commit and put Express Oil Change Service Centers on the hood. From there, we got a couple more people to help out. It has been an awesome deal and a lot of fun.
Neff: Tell us a little about the Jack Link’s deal. I know they’ve been behind you for two to three years now. How did that whole arrangement come together?
Hemric: They really wanted to be a part of this sport and they just wanted to make sure it was the right time and was the right market for them. We’ve been able to do a lot of great things with them since the very first time they were on our car a couple of years ago. That has been an ongoing, developing relationship and they are one of the main reasons this whole thing was able to come together. My hat is off to them for making my dream come true and giving me a shot.
Neff: How long before we see you and Bigfoot in a race car doing a Jack Link’s commercial?
Hemric: Sasquatch, yeah. I would not mind doing a commercial with him. I’m sure we could come up with something good. Their commercials are second to none. Hopefully, we can pull it off one day.
Neff: For next year, you don’t have anything finalized for what you’re doing yet?
Hemric: Not really. This is obviously a stepping stone and building a relationship with all of the guys at SGR. With everyone who is on the truck this weekend, maybe someone will want to step up and help us out. One more thing, we have Hope for Warriors on the truck too, provided by Murphy Family Ventures. That was really big to have such a great cause on the quarterpanels, too. If we can get everyone to step up, maybe we can run a couple more of these races.
After the disappointing outcome of the race, Hemric still had his trademark smile in the garage area and remained upbeat even though he had to be devastated inside. He remains optimistic that there will be more races down the road.
Neff: Outside of the utter disappointment of a transmission failure, how was the overall experience of your Camping World Truck Series debut?
Hemric: Everything up to that point was awesome. The dream was coming true one second at a time. From the time we unloaded, the SGR guys had me in a really fast truck. That’s going to have to be the high note of the whole deal. We never really got a shot to really race. There wasn’t anything anyone could have done about it. I’m just really proud of everyone for all of the hard work. The best thing about it is we were fast, so at least we can hold our heads high about that. Stuff happens; we’ll just go out and win another day.
Neff: Did you get a little bit of experience of racing with some guys once you got back out there?
Hemric: Maybe a little bit. When you come back out 40 laps down, the biggest goal was to not tear it up for no reason. Anytime we got within two or three truck lengths, I tried to back it up and just not tear it up. I felt like we had plenty of speed and could have raced with anybody. It just didn’t go the way everyone had hoped it would.
Hemric now heads to Nashville to try and overcome his deficit to points leader Bubba Pollard. He’ll compete in the Southern Super Series this weekend, running the All-American 400. At this point, there are no plans for Hemric to run in a Truck again this season, but he is hopeful he’ll be able to compete at Phoenix in a week and a half.
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