NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Daniel Hemric Advances to Championship 4 But Falls Short at Martinsville: ‘I’m So Disappointed’

Everybody was thinking it.

What would happen this time in the closing laps to prevent Daniel Hemric from winning his first NASCAR national series race?

Besides a caution from future teammate Justin Haley, it was a joint decision from the No. 18 team that prevented him from challenging full bore for the win at Martinsville.

“It’s the first time as a racer that I’ve had to choose to not put myself in the best position to win,” he said. “I wanted to line up on the top. I felt like I could beat him (Noah Gragson) if everything is all fair game, but the ultimate goal at the start of the season with this Poppy Bank Toyota Supra team was do what we officially have a shot to do in Phoenix next weekend. It just felt like we had a shot to minimize the damage and that’s what we did. I’m so disappointed. This car should be in victory lane.”

As he mentioned, though, he did emerge with a Championship 4 spot in hand and didn’t want to spend too much time reflecting on the what ifs and maybes that he was left pondering after the penultimate race of the 2021 Xfinity Series season.

“Nothing matters right now, right? Now we have all our eggs in one basket next week,” he said. “Started our season out with ultimate goal of running for a championship and we started these playoffs in not the best spot, not the most playoff points. Fought for for all we had. Obviously, winning would’ve been a lot more fun. It don’t matter though as long as we conquer the ultimate goal next week.”

See also
Xfinity Breakdown: Daniel Hemric Advances but Late Caution Thwarts Another Victory

On the second to last restart, Hemric chose the bottom lane, which allowed Gragson to take the lead on the outside. On the final restart, Gragson chose the bottom and Hemric, who could’ve chosen the top, opted to restart in the second row behind Gragson.

“I promise you, I wanted to go to the top,” he said. “But as a race team, we could not make that decision and we went to the bottom. That’s not what I wanted to make for tonight, it was the decision I had to make to get the next week.

“We went all in together and chose the bottom, but the racer in me wanted to go to the top. You want to race it out for the win, I knew we had the race car to be sitting in victory lane right now. But situational awareness, trying to minimize damage, you got to hope for the best and plan for the worst. That’s what the last restart was all about, trying to put yourself in the best position and also if something goes awry how do you minimize it.”

While points racing can get you into the Championship 4, Hemric understands that may not be the case next week in Phoenix, saying “everything’s on the table” in terms of doing what needs to be done to grab the win, one that would be his first in the national series.

But inevitably, he was asked about the chance of winning the title without winning a race.

It’s a possibility, though. But Hemric is sure to be hungrier than ever to earn his first career win and championship.

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