HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Daniel Hemric knows that many conversations among fans during the past few seasons have centered on the fact he has yet to win a NASCAR national series race.
Hemric wants to end that chatter once and for all and he believes that driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next year is his “best shot yet” at finally achieving that goal.
The 29-year-old native of Kannapolis, N.C., ran 21 Xfinity Series races this year for JR Motorsports, anchoring the team’s “all-star car” and helping place it in the playoffs for the owner’s championship.
However, in 21 races, Hemric only earned seven top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. Bad luck, parts failures and being collected in crashes spoiled multiple promising runs and played a hand in keeping him out of the winner’s circle.
With that in mind, Hemric hopes that being back in a race car from week to week next year will rekindle the consistency he needs to finally help him win his first NASCAR race.
“At the end of the day, I just wanted to give myself and my family the best opportunity for success, and I feel like the track record for Toyota and JGR speaks for itself,” Hemric said. “I’ve been very vocal in the past about wanting to be a situation where (success) was on my shoulders because I’ve felt like I’ve been in a lot of situations where I’ve had to help carry things along in order to help programs along.
“I take pride in that. I feel like every time I’ve gotten in a race car at the beginning of the year, that by the end of the year, that both myself and the team could look at each other and say that we made one another stronger and better,” Hemric added. “I hope to do the same at JGR at a full-time level and I believe we’ll have everything that we need to have in order to succeed and check a lot of boxes.”
Hemric has run either full-time or in a majority of the races in one of NASCAR’s three top series every year since 2015, when he ran for rookie-of-the-year honors in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Bob Newberry’s NTS Motorsports operation.
That led to an opportunity with Brad Keselowski Racing the following year, before Richard Childress Racing picked Hemric up for a three-year stint that included back-to-back Xfinity Series campaigns in 2017-’18 and a NASCAR Cup Series season in 2019.
When two-time Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick took over Hemric’s RCR Cup ride, JR Motorsports stepped in to give Hemric two-thirds of a season this year, keeping him in the conversation prior to his new opportunity opening at Joe Gibbs Racing for next season.
Those six years of competition have featured a combined 175 NASCAR national series starts for Hemric, but no wins in the Truck Series, Xfinity Series or Cup Series.
Joe Gibbs Racing, meanwhile, has earned 21 victories with its Xfinity Series program over the past two years and the team is often thought of as the top operation in the division. Hemric is well aware of that.
He doesn’t believe that winning pedigree places any extra pressure on him as he prepares to vie for victories and an Xfinity Series championship, however.
Internally, he’s already pushing himself to achieve both of those goals.
“I’m feeling that Christmas morning as a kid feeling in my stomach; that’s what I’m feeling,” Hemric noted in regard to driving for JGR. “I know the opportunity that’s in front of me, but I also know that nothing in this sport is a given. You have to go work for it and I’m excited about the work ahead.
“I know that if I do my job, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t have plenty of opportunities to check that box,” he added. “We can’t run before we walk and we have to hit the ground with our feet moving in the right direction, I feel. You want the ball in situations like this and I feel that every time I’m in a race car next year, the ball is going to be in my hands with an opportunity to get the job done.”
In searching for his next opportunity, Hemric told SPEED SPORT he would have accepted another part-time ride “as long as it had winning capabilities,” but added that returning to full-time status “was always the goal.”
Hemric wants to prove that he can still compete on a regular basis with the best of the best in NASCAR. He believes that landing with Joe Gibbs Racing allows him to do that.
“Making the announcement was a big deal for myself and for my family. To be welcomed with open arms into the Toyota Racing family and know that I’ll be competing on a full-time basis next year for Joe Gibbs Racing … as a kid who grew up racing, grinding day-in and day-out trying to find a way and find success, this is what you dream of. The past 24 months have tested me, for sure, but I feel like I’m a stronger man now for having gone through those trials and getting to this point.
“The target was always to get back to racing every week, no matter what the situation was,” Hemric explained. “At the end of last year, with me finding out the way things were going to shake out, it left me high and dry … for lack of a better term. Dale and Kelley (Earnhardt) gave me a great opportunity this year at JRM to keep a seat warm, keep my feet in a race car and really, that was the first building block to get back to the full-time level.
“Without that stepping-stone, I don’t know that I’d be talking about the incredible opportunity that I have now with JGR, and the hope going forward is that we can make something of it. I think we can.”