By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
There are numerous descriptions that come to mind when it comes to describing two drivers that have spent much of their careers competing with and against one another. Competitors, friends, student, teacher, former teammates, and rivals are just some of the words that can be used to describe NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship hopefuls Daniel Hemric and William Byron. Hemric and Byron’s career paths are similar as the duo rose through the ranks together.
Both drivers will compete in the Ford EcoBoost 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship at Homestead. Byron is leading Xfinity regulars with four victories, and is fighting for his first championship on the National Series level. Hemric, on the other hand, is not only looking for this first career NASCAR victory outside of late model competition, but also a championship of his own.
The two NASCAR Xfinity Series Rookies both started their racing careers on the ¼-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway as well as ¼-mile at Concord Speedway. Back then, Hemric had the upper hand, winning three championships in the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Pro Class (2009, 2013, and 2014). He also set records in the Summer Shootout that stood until earlier this year. Hemric also beat Byron among many others to win the Legends Million at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Hemric, being five-years older than Byron, made the jump to Late Models earlier than Byron. Hemric won three championships in Late Models, one in 2012 in the CRA JEGS All-Star Tour, and two in 2013 in the Southern Super Series and the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship.
This is a cool deal that I’m sure many don’t know about. @WilliamByron ran 3 races in a car I️ built & owned/crew chief, with the help of a great group of friends. Man, crazy how much things can change in 3 years! https://t.co/bxiJJwXF2D
— Daniel Hemric (@DanielHemric) November 13, 2017
When it came time for Byron to make his first start a Late Model, it was behind the wheel of a car owned by Hemric at South Alabama Speedway in October 2014. At South Alabama, he finished second with his future Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott finishing fifth. In total Byron drove for Hemric just three times.
2015 saw their paths split as Hemric entered the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Byron competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, dominating with four victories, five top fives, and 11 top-10s in 14 races, en-route to the Championship. The duo were once again competing in the same series for a championship in 2016 as Byron dominated the Truck Series, winning a series-high seven races. Neither won the championship however.
Now, the two drivers whose career paths very closely match one another, will fight to become the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion.