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Daniel Hemric is Finally Victorious in NASCAR

Daniel Hemric saved the best for last at Phoenix. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Daniel Hemric saved the best for last at Phoenix. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

At last. Daniel Hemric is a NASCAR winner.

This was no extraordinary victory, but one that also crowned him as the 2021 Xfinity Series champion.

On the last lap of the Xfinity Series Championship Race, Hemric made one last ditch effort to hunt down Austin Cindric. Hemric made the Game 7 move on Cindric, rubbing fenders, not giving any inch if it mean to win the championship.

As it’s been throughout the NXS campaign, it saved the best wild moment for last as Hemric crossed the line in first.

No longer is he the man tied with Dale Jarrett with 10 runner-up finishes before their maiden win. He’ll forever be known as a winner and champion to close out his tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Tenacious to the last. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Tenacious to the last. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

“Unbelievable. These guys right here have asked me all year how bad do you want it? We gave away one here in the spring. I felt like we had to give one up last week to get here. We were not going to be denied,” said Hemric, who’ll join Kaulig Racing in 2022.

“Thank you Dave Rogers (crew chief). Bill and Cindy Gallaher. Everyone at Poppy Bank. Will Gallaher. They took a chance on me in 2015 in some form or fashion. They stuck with me through times they probably shouldn’t have to be honest with you.

“I’ve been waiting a long damn time to do that. Thank you Joe Gibbs, everyone at TRD, Toyota, Bell Helmets, everyone here that makes this program what it is. People doubted me. I would do it all over again for a night like this.”

Cindric’s bid of going back-to-back was snatched following Hemric’s aggressive racing style. The agony of defeat was evident, especially when the title was at reach.

Austin Cindric defended his title with grace and dignity. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Austin Cindric defended his title with grace and dignity. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

“If everyone in the stands enjoyed it, it’s good racing.  I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to race on such a big stage,” said Cindric. “The opportunity to race for Roger Penske and represent Ford Performance, our companies and all of our sponsors that have helped us this season.  It would have been awesome to finish this out.

“I felt like we had a dominant race car. I felt like we did everything right. Come up a little bit short.  Sometimes it’s like that way,” Cindric continued.

“Unfortunately, at the end of both seasonal championships this year, I’m getting obviously moved out of the way and doored, but that’s hard racing. That’s why everyone enjoys watching this series. It’s because there’s a lot on the line. I’m thankful for the opportunity and pissed to be second for like the third week in a row.”

Hemric’s walk off victory symbolized the never die attitude the entire No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew had. Such attitude began on Friday when Hemric’s Toyota Supra arrived late at Phoenix Raceway.

This was a result of the original hauler breaking down in Texas. They had to use Ty Gibb’s ARCA hauler as a back up and less than 30 minutes until practice, the car arrived in a white mini hauler and quickly got to work.

When it hit the track, Hemric showcased strong pace by going third fastest overall, only trailing Cindric among the Championship 4 contenders.

Hemric’s crew chief Dave Rogers explained the entire team didn’t skip a beat when their backs were against wall even if it mean a lot of game plans were changed throughout Friday.

Hemric and his No. 18 team overcame a problem with their transporter ahead of Friday afternoon's practice session. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Hemric and his No. 18 team overcame a problem with their transporter ahead of Friday afternoon’s practice session. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

“Coach (Joe Gibbs) says it all the time. You measure people when your back’s against the wall. Anybody can do it when it’s easy. The whole Gibbs family have been great mentors to me for over 20 years,” said Rogers.

“When adversity struck, the first you do is look at the your guys. None of them were shaken. We were coming up a new game plan every five minutes. First, we were going to have plenty of time for the car to make practice. No sweat. Then it wasn’t going to make practice and then it was coming right before (practice),” Rogers explained.

“As the scenarios were unfolding, we kept adjusting the game plan. If it does this, we’re going to do that. We had a plan for every situation. We have awesome teammates. When we unloaded the car, there was a sworn of bees on it. Everyone was on the car, putting on the shark fin and installing the TV cameras. Getting our reference measurements.

“They performed like professions. To get this championship caps it off nicely.”

Throughout the race extended 204-lap race, Hemric was a front runner as it became clear if he wants the championship, a maiden win is a must.

Hemric got that opportunity when a two-car crash involving Josh Williams and Jade Buford brought out the 10th and final caution.

Perhaps even sweeter, Hemric knew that Cindric had a better short run car but one shot was all he needed and 0.030 seconds was all the difference.

Arms raised in victory. (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

Arms raised in victory. (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

“I’m blacked out. Blacked out. Just knew I had to be the first one to the line,” Hemric explained. “I thought I let him get too much of a run off of four. Drove into one, knew I was close not to completely use them up, but we work our asses off for an opportunity like this. Excuse my language. This is what it’s all about, winning at the second highest level in all of motorsports.

“What an honor. Unbelievable. I’d do it all over again. I’ll take all the heartbreaks again to live this right here.”

Noah Gragson’s night went south after brushing the wall late in the race. When the dust settled, Gragson ended up third in the standings after finishing 12th. He wasn’t alone as AJ Allmendinger had a worse moment when he spun on Lap 181. Allmendinger rallied back to 14th and was the bottom Championship 4 performer.

Top 10 Results: Hemric (champion), Cindric (runner-up), H. Burton, Herbst, Haley, JH Nemechek, Jones, Moffitt, Allgaier, and Creed

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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