Daniel Hemric has had a tough rookie year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It got even tougher when the 28-year-old found out he’s losing his ride in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8 Chevrolet at the end of the season.
Still, Hemric is currently five points ahead of Ryan Preece for rookie of the year and 25th in the driver standings. One of the bright spots of Hemric’s season was when he won the pole award at Kansas Speedway a few weeks ago, qualifying him for the 2020 Clash.
Hemric recently spoke with Frontstretch about his season, his feelings on losing his ride and the outlook on his future.
Michael Massie, Frontstretch: How close are you watching the rookie of the year battle?
Daniel Hemric: Yeah, I mean, all year we’ve set out to check that box off, and I feel like the days where we’ve done our jobs and executed, we’ve put those points back in the bank. But when we’ve poorly executed races, which we’ve done a lot of lately as a whole, that’s allowed him [Preece] to kind of claw back in and obviously take the lead back in that whole rookie of the race deal … Hopefully, we go out and do our jobs and execute, we’ll be fine. But with everything else going on in life, it’s kinda been the further thing from my mind.
Massie: I’ve heard the points fund only pays the top 25 in points. Has that been a topic among your team?
Hemric: Not really, because, you know, I think from the beginning of the season, we’ve clawed and kind of kept our way inside that top 25 fairly comfortable until, like I said, we just haven’t done a great job of getting points over the last eight to 10 weeks. We know if we go out and perform like we know we can over the next four to five weeks, then we’ll find ourselves inside of the top 25. And yeah, it’s just kind of a tough situation. Nobody wants to be kind of bleeding points like we have lately, but it’s the nature of the beast. We just need to go out and do our jobs as the weeks come to us.
Massie: You said you weren’t devastated, but what was the word you used when you found out RCR wasn’t bringing you back?
Hemric: Yeah, definitely not devastated, just frustrated, right? I mean in life you have a lot of stuff going on, and to be devastated is kind of like, I would think losing family members and whatnot. It’s just, ah, I lost a racecar ride. But I feel like I’m here to drive racecars, and that’s what we continue to do. I’m just not going to be with RCR next year, but it’s just a tough situation. I know Richard didn’t want to make that decision, he was pretty vocal about that. But at the end of the day, they felt like financial and whatnot, they needed to go that route. Frustrating for sure, but I understand the business side. It is what it is, we’ll move on.
Massie: How satisfying was that pole at Kansas Speedway? Was that a form of validation?
Hemric: Yeah, it was. It was very validating, I think, for this group. We’ve had really good ECR [Earnhardt Childress Racing] power, body shop, you know, everybody on this [No.] 8 team has done a great job of having really fast single-car speed all year and been close to poles. Our teammate Austin Dillon has got a couple of them. So we did want to get one this year, so it was good to finally knock that out of the park. And after we got the pole at Kansas, I realized it was Luke Lambert’s, my crew chief’s, first pole as a Cup crew chief, as well as a bunch of guys on my race team. So a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for those guys and myself, really.
You know you want to be a part of the conversation, especially when you’re in the middle of a job search. So right, wrong or indifferent, it brings up some hype and some talk and puts your name out there. I’ve never lost faith in my ability to go fast in a racecar. It’s just a matter of being in the right situation, so it feels good to be able to go fast for at least one lap one day.
Massie: You’re qualified for The Clash now. How does that feel, and is there any chance we could see you back in the No. 8 car for The Clash?
Hemric: There’s a guy named Richard Childress you can go ask that question to. I’m not sure what his thought process would be on putting me in a car for The Clash. But you know as a kid growing up watching The Clash and being a fan of The Clash, I didn’t even acknowledge it initially when we got the pole. But then I was like, ‘Man, that’s pretty cool. I’m qualified for The Clash now.’ The worst part about it is I don’t have a ride. So I’m gonna start a GoFundMe page maybe, ‘Put Daniel in The Clash’ account. But no, it’s just good to have that option. Hopefully, something works out and we can take advantage of it.
Massie: Have you talked to any other teams about next year yet?
Hemric: Oh yeah. Yeah. If you haven’t talked to other teams by this point, then you’re pretty much on your way out. It’s a tough day as far as where we’re at as a sport and the model we all operate under. I know NASCAR, internally, is doing everything with team owners and drivers and sponsors of trying to restructure and get the model un-broke like it is. But until then, yeah, you’ve just got to talk to anybody and everybody.
As the term I use, I’ve got lines dropped in the water in all three series, just trying to figure out what’s gonna bite. I’m confident that I’ll be, in 2020, I’ll be exactly where I’m supposed to be at exactly the right time. It’s just a part of life and timing, and it’ll work out the way it’s supposed to, and I’ll just try to have faith in that.
Massie: So you’re pretty confident that you’ll have something?
Hemric: Yeah, oh yeah, yeah. I’ll have something. It may be just my faith in an empty pocket, but I’ll have something in life.
Massie: So you mentioned all three series. So if another Cup ride doesn’t come, then you’d be interested in Xfinity or Trucks?
Hemric: Yeah, I’ve said along, right, it’s all about people and relationships. And if you’re not here, then you’re not going to have a chance to be around any of those two things. And if you’re not around any of those two things, then you’re not gonna have a ride at any level. So the way I go about it is try to see what’s available, see what people’s interests are. You want to be a part of a situation where you’re wanted. I don’t care where that’s at, what level that’s at, as long as I have an opportunity to go be with good people, a good organization and build for the future. That’s the goal.
Massie: If you weren’t here, if you weren’t in NASCAR, what would you be doing?
Hemric: I’d be building racecars, short track racing all over the country. That’s what I’d be doing. That’s what I was committed to do through 2012-13, even 2014. I thought that was gonna be my path. I thought I was never gonna get my shot at this level, so when I got it, now I’m here to try to make the most of it. But that’s definitely what I’d be doing if I wasn’t at the NASCAR level.