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Dropping the Hammer with Daniel Hemric

All in all, Daniel Hemric desires to be a staying power in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia/TPF)

All in all, Daniel Hemric desires to be a staying power in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Michael Guariglia/TPF)

All things considered, Daniel Hemric currently maximizes the most of a difficult rookie campaign in NASCAR’s premier division.  By all means, the 28-year-old Kannapolis, N.C. native keeps his best feet forward despite an uncertain future as of press time.

Still, the amiable, ambitious racer reflects on the positives of his freshman year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.  Certainly Hemric showcased such with a fifth at the spring Talladega race and a seventh at the July Pocono race.

In the meantime, the driver of the No. 8 Caterpillar/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro acknowledged the difficult learning curve prevalent with Cup racing.  In spite of this, he’s taken to his experiences with stride and optimism. Truly, he appreciates each weekend battle for the unique venues and spots around each Cup battleground.

Altogether, Hemric possesses that old school racer’s mentality.  However, he also has the kindness and willingness to connect with press and fans in genuine fashion.  Essentially, if a race fan needed to find one of the good folks to follow in NASCAR, Daniel Hemric presents a strong argument for such in today’s field.

Earlier in the year, I spoke with Hemric to gather his thoughts on his rookie year.  Needless to say, this young man appreciates each individual who’s been alongside him with his journey.  Now, let’s start “Dropping the Hammer with Daniel Hemric!”

Rob Tiongson :  Racing full-time as a Cup rookie, which I have to imagine is a very educational but rewarding experience. Based on that, what would you grade yourself for this year?

Without a doubt, Daniel Hemric embraces his journey in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Without a doubt, Daniel Hemric embraces his journey in NASCAR. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Daniel Hemric :  Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely been a huge learning experience, racing 39 of the other best drivers in the world. So, every time, every lap I’ve made, every racetrack we’ve been, it’s been learning something new.

Throughout the process, I’ve made some mistakes. And we’ve made some mistakes as a race team as well and just haven’t really executed nowhere near what we feel like our full potential is. But from a grading standpoint, I’ve never been… I didn’t get that good of grades in school, so I’m not really sure what kind of letter to give it. But ultimately, I know there’s a lot of work we’ve still got to do on this No. 8 team, but I think we’re trending in the right direction.

Rob Tiongson :  Absolutely. Now, given your experiences in racing, what’s it mean to you that you’ve worked hard to be from the Truck series to Xfinity and now in Cup?

Daniel Hemric :  Yeah, it means the world to me. You set out with a dream and a goal at five, six years old, just like a lot of guys in this garage. And as years go by and you move up the ladder, you see guys for whatever reason either fall short or have to give up on chasing that dream.

Fortunately, I was able to withstand the storm and make it to this point. So very thankful and blessed to be where I’m at. But once you get here, it’s another thing to try to perform and stay here. So hopefully we can continue to elevate all of ourselves to the level we feel like we are capable of getting to, and that’ll help us, like I said, keep moving forward.

Rob Tiongson :  Absolutely. Now, being a rookie, of course, there’s things you’ve learned on the track, whether good or bad. I know you said that you weren’t so good in school. What are some of the lessons or experiences you’ve learned from in Cup?

Teamwork makes the dream work for a racer like Hemric. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Teamwork makes the dream work for a racer like Hemric. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Daniel Hemric :  Oh, man. There’s a list of things. I’m not sure how many laps we’ve ran this year as a whole. But it’s one of those deals where you’re learning from the best, from spot 1 to spot 40, throughout the field.

So, there’s little things you learn and pick up on, like with our raw data that we can look at after these races that we haven’t had in other series. That’s a huge advantage as a driver because you can look at certain things cars and guys are doing in draft situations and positioning themselves.

I’ve found myself in a couple of those tough spots this year and cost our race team a good bit. So just trying to learn from those. But a lot of it is more or less just… you can prepare and do all you want getting to the racetrack.

But, once you’re there, you’ve got to be able to kind of put yourself mentally in those situations you’re going to face throughout the weekend and know that your car’s capable and you’re capable of making the right decisions at the right time. So, just trying to hone in on that stuff. Definitely learned a lot over the course of the first part of the year.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, one of the things you did during the first part of the year, you’ve actually recently partaken in the Crack Cancer Challenge. Broke two eggs on your head – pretty hard, I might add. Now, given the power of social media when you raise awareness to find a cure for cancer, how exciting is it to be a positive steward on outlets like Twitter or Facebook to make a good impact for others?

Daniel Hemric :  You know, I feel like the stage that we’re blessed with and know that our voice carries, we’re on a platform that the majority of the people in the world don’t ever have a chance to stand on. So, taking advantage of those outlets, whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, whatever it is, we do have a voice and it’s heard pretty far and wide.

So, some of that stuff’s all fine and fun and good to do, but there’s also some seriousness to it. We want to make sure we can help drive the causes that are important to us. My buddy Chip Wile there at Daytona called me out, so I thought it’d be fun to take part in the Crack Cancer Challenge and obviously for the cause it was for. So yeah, just not losing sight that, as racing, we have our jobs to do, but the platform we’re on, we can carry a big voice.

Rob Tiongson :  And I’m sure that you’re waiting for Bubba and Marcus to get on that for sure.

Daniel Hemric :  Yeah. I’m pretty confident Bubba will here at some point. He actually responded and said, “How did I know that as soon as you were nominated I’d be next right after that?” So I’ve got faith that both of them will pull through.

Rob Tiongson :  Well, you guys go way back, so I could see why that would happen for sure.

Daniel Hemric :  Exactly.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, you know racing is a very demanding sport. It’s very physical. It’s very draining mentally as well. But how do you balance the rigors of racing to have a very happy, healthy outlook on life when you’re away from the track?

Of course, Hemric balances on track time, as pictured, with his time off the track. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Of course, Hemric balances on track time, as pictured, with his time off the track. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Daniel Hemric :  Just trying to take everything with stride. I’ve been fortunate to be in some really good situations. And some really tough situations in my life, and I feel like I’ve learned and grown as a person through all of it. So, going to these racetracks, it’s easy to get…(to) so many different places we travel week after week.

It’s easy to just go to the racetrack, do your job, and go home for a day or two, and then go out and do it again. But trying to take advantage of actually enjoying the places we’re going. It’s my first time being in the driver/owner lot over there with the bus, and because of that you get more freedom. You’re not packed.

From the racetrack, going to the hotel, and getting up and doing it all over again. There’s some reach to be able to go and visit and explore some of these incredible places we get to visit. And yeah, my wife and I just try to go with that stuff and make the most of our time in whatever place we’re at that weekend.

Rob Tiongson :  Absolutely. Now, the neat thing with Michigan’s June race is that Father’s Day weekend usually precedes it. I’m sure you’ve got some father figures or inspirations that have played a big role in your life. So, what has been the role or a key that they’ve been in your life to making the positive and very impactful young man you’ve become?

Daniel Hemric :  You know, I’ve had numerous people play that role for me throughout my life. I think about my stepfather, my real dad, as well as a guy who gave me a shot in a racecar back in 2008 that really kind of put my name back on the map. And because of each one of those guys, they were able to teach me something that I’ll be able to carry through the rest of my life, whether it’s never stop working, to just being adamant that failure is not an option, to supporting your family through all things. I think each one of those have had a certain dynamic of building me into the person I am today. And I’m very thankful for that.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, each of us have had a moment where we felt welcomed or initiated into NASCAR. What’s your “welcome to NASCAR” moment?

Hemric reflected on a genuinely incredible moment in 2015. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Hemric reflected on a genuinely incredible moment in 2015. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Daniel Hemric :  I mean, from the driver’s side, I think it’s just being amongst your peers and seeing some of your peers support what you’re doing. I think back to my first time really being competitive, maybe in one of NTS’s trucks.

Back in 2015 at Dover, we had our first top-five run, and people saw, and your peers and competition see what you’re doing with the equipment you have. And that gets attention, and because of that, there is some weight to that. I think that was one of my first times feeling like I could do it at this level. And then I’ve been fortunate to have those moments kind of at each step so far along the way, and those are the ones that make you feel good as a driver, that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

Rob Tiongson :  Certainly. Now, one thing I think that’s really neat about you is that you really go out of your way to thank the veterans who have served for our country. And I think that’s really cool to just take that little bit of time to do that. With the NASCAR Salutes campaign, how powerful or emotional is it that you get to meet some of these brave women and men who have served for us?

Daniel Hemric :  Oh, it’s incredibly emotional, for one. Those folks, and whether it’s them or their family members that we’ve lost, have 100% made the ultimate sacrifice for us to be able to go to the racetrack, to do interviews, to stand before people and live the lives that we live. It’s because of those people that gave that ultimate sacrifice.

So, obviously, NASCAR Salutes is a certain time throughout our season. But every day, all day, if you have an opportunity to see a veteran or say thank you, I think that’s the utmost thing you can do as a person and a human being.

So, it’s an incredible time of the year for NASCAR to be able to do that. And some of the folks that we’ve been able to meet and mingle with and really heroes to the great country we live in.

It’s unbelievable, as a driver, those assets that we’re given. On the flip side of it, we’re the lucky ones that they’re our heroes.

Rob Tiongson :  Certainly. One little bonus question for you. Same question I asked your teammate, Tyler Reddick. If you got to have a biopic about yourself, which actor in Hollywood would you want to have depicting your life in racing?

Daniel Hemric :  Oh, man. Who would I pick in that role? I am so bad with actors. Every time I get these questions, I don’t know the names of anybody.

Rob Tiongson :  It could be a country artist, or someone that you like.

Daniel Hemric :  I’m drawing a blank. I don’t know. (laughs) How about this? Who would you set for me?

Rob Tiongson :  I would say Luke Bryan.

As shown above, Hemric presents a unique choice of actor if he had a Hollywood movie based on his life. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

As shown above, Hemric presents a unique choice of actor if he had a Hollywood movie based on his life. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Daniel Hemric :  Luke Bryan? There we go. I’ve seen the… what’s the show Luke Bryan’s on now? There’s a singing show. My wife watches Luke Bryan.

Rob Tiongson :  Is it American Idol?

Daniel Hemric :  It might be American Idol.

Rob Tiongson :  Not that I watch it either.

Daniel Hemric :  Luke Bryan’s got a great personality, so yeah. I’m in. I like him.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Daniel and Richard Childress Racing for making this opportunity possible!  In addition to TPF, keep track of Daniel, on and away from the track, on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and his official website!  Lastly, this article is dedicated to the veterans of the U.S. armed forces, like my dad Virgil, and those around the world protecting the free world!

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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