By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For this week’s edition of Climbing the Ladder, Seth Eggert sat back down with Richard Childress Racing driver Daniel Hemric. Hemric drives the No. 21 Anderson’s Maple Syrup, Blue Gate Bank, Death Wish Coffee, Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet Camaro SS. Hemric is campaigning for the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship as well as Sunoco Rookie of the Year Honors.
He currently sits seventh in the points standings, six-points behind of the cutoff for the Round of Four. Eggert spoke with Hemric last year while he was competing with Brad Keselowski Racing. That interview can be found here.
Seth Eggert: Last year you told me that drivers like Brad Keselowski inspire you. Is that still the case?
Daniel Hemric: Absolutely. Brad, his story is something in itself is something that should not only motivate myself but motivate anyone to strive to keep working hard and have a dream come to fruition. That’s cool and going from that story, I now call Richard Childress my boss and his story is no different. It’s cool to be surrounded by guys with that kind of story and leadership who have come from where they come from.
SE: Some of your records in the Summer Shootout Series Legends cars were broken earlier in the year. How does it feel knowing that for a time, your name was in the record books?
DH: I’m good with it. I mean, that’s what they say, records are made to be broken, right? It’s just good to see that people are talking about Legend car racing, the Summer Shootout, and all the stuff that allowed me to get to where I am today. I’m good with it. I encourage all of the kids to go out and get after it.
SE: Can you describe the transition from competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to the NASCAR Xfinity Series?
DH: I think that the transition has been pretty smooth. It’s something that I had to go into open-minded. Running one year of anything obviously has its’ own variables. The second year you kind of become a little complacent, you understand what the vehicle wants, what it needs. But then you have got to re-teach your mind as you go into it, another step like the Xfinity Series. I’ve enjoyed the transition, I feel like it’s been good to go through the motions. It’s made me feel like a better racer throughout the time.
SE: You just re-signed with Richard Childress Racing, how much of a relief is it to remain with the same team for another year?
DH: Since I’ve been in NASCAR, this is my first time repeating with a team for more than one year. So that’s always exciting. I know how Richard feels about me, how he believes in me. That’s no different, I believe in RCR and his company as a whole and what they can get back to. I know that they have been in a constant rebuilding process just like a lot of teams. Every weekend we’re trying to be better than the weekend before that. That was the cause of my re-signing. I believe in this company and I want to get back to what it was years ago, and I know that we can do it.
SE: You have two full-time teammates, Brandon Jones and Brendan Gaughan, and multiple part-time teammates. How much of a benefit is it to have so many different teammates?
DH: I think it is for sure. Especially when we are in the process of trying to learn our cars, figure out what the cars want. We have a lot of great people, and lot of great leaders inside the company that try different stuff. Having that many teammates allows us to do that. It allows us to go through a lot of different stuff throughout a weekend and hopefully be able to cut that window of time down for us to hone in on what our racecars want and need.
I think it’s been a good thing especially as we get into the Playoffs to have their experience to lean on the last couple of years.
SE: Last year, you told me it was inspiring to have Brad Keselowski as a team owner. Is it the same to have a Hall of Famer like Richard Childress as a team owner?
DH: Yes. Richard is a guy who has already taught me so many life lessons away from the racetrack as well as on. He has been such an inspiration to the community where he’s from, and people throughout the country. Everything that he has done for himself and his success story with where he came from. To be able to call that guy a boss, and be able to go up to his office and have one-on-one time, spend that time with him, you really get a true understanding of who Richard Childress is. That’s a totally different perspective. I feel very honored and fortunate to be in the situation that I am to call him my boss.
SE: Is there one race from the past year that you wish you could have a do over?
DH: Charlotte (May) earlier this year sticks out immediately to me. We qualified really well and I got into the fence early. We never got to see how our racecar was going to race. I feel like we had a strong racecar that day. That was tough to swallow because it hindered running good here (Charlotte) at home which everyone wants to do. I’m glad that we’re getting another shot at it here.
SE: Brad Keselowski Racing announced that they would not continue after this season. How do you feel about that after having a successful season with them last year?
DH: Anytime you hear of any team of any series of any form having to close the doors is very disheartening. I feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is that Brad Keselowski himself and the group that he has assembled up there to this point have given so many opportunities for work, young racers to strive for their partners. Everybody that has been involved at BKR since its’ inception is hard to be overlooked.
I feel like he is very proud with what he was able to do with that. Obviously, his life is going in a different direction and he feels like it’s best for whatever it is that he has going on the professional side of his career. I don’t get caught up in the fact that it’s closing, I only get caught up in the fact that it’s amazing there’s still people like Brad out there willing to take a risk on the sport and give people an opportunity.
SE: Looking at the future, where do you see yourself a year from now, are you optimistic about your chances?
DH: I’m optimistic. That’s why we keep coming back every week, but I feel like it’s to be determined. I feel like we’re getting our racecars better, ECR is getting better, Chevrolet is really, really on board, as they have been in the past with RCR. That’s all good stuff pointing in the right direction, and hopefully we’ll be writing the storylines in the near future.