By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
For the first time since April 5, 2009, the famous No. 8 makes its return in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Xfinity Series regular Daniel Hemric piloting a third Richard Childress Racing car for two races, beginning at Richmond Raceway for the annual Toyota Owners 400 on April 21st.
The announcement took place Tuesday evening on FS1’s “NASCAR Race Hub,” where he unveiled the No. 8 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
In addition of making his Cup debut at the 0.75-mile oval, he’ll also partake in the anticipating Inaugural Bank of America 500K at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course on September 30th.
Hemric said being able to make his debut at Richmond is special because of his rise towards NASCAR stardom took place on the short tracks.
“To make my debut at Richmond will make me feel at home, since I spent years coming up through the ranks at short-tracks across the country. To do it again in front of my hometown crowd in Charlotte later in the year is an overwhelming feeling,” said Hemric. “Many people have laid everything on the line to get me to this point and I am extremely grateful to all of those people for putting me in position to get this shot in the Cup Series. These are going to be two very special weekends, to say the least.
“You only get one chance to make your Cup Series debut, and it is pretty incredible to know that I am able to do it with Richard Childress Racing and with a partner such as Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff,” said Hemric. “RCR and Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff have been so influential in so many drivers’ careers – a lot of my heroes growing up. To know they will play a large role in the next step of my career and my initial Cup Series debut is very special.”
Hemric’s relationship with Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff dates back to his rookie season in the Xfinity Series, running the dark green livery in four races, including an incredible battle with Cole Custer for a Championship 4 berth at ISM Raceway, which Hemric accomplished.
“Daniel Hemric was a great ambassador for our brand in 2017,” said Dave Savoca, President of Smokey Mountain Chew. “His on-track success, coupled with his infectious personality and marketability, were a great fit for our company, and we look forward to building on that partnership in 2018 as Daniel makes his Cup Series debut.
“Our company has seen measurable growth in our brand through our various partnerships in NASCAR,” Savoca added. “To be able to take our program to the highest level of competition, in one of NASCAR’s premiere divisions – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – with such a top-notch organization and driver is both an honor and a privilege for everyone on the Smokey Mountain Team. We look forward to cheering on Daniel and the No. 8 team in 2018.”
While his Cup debut has been announced, Hemric has had seat time in the premiere series, notably serving as a stand-in for Paul Menard in Cup practices at Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway, including qualifying Menard’s No. 27 Chevrolet at Texas. He was also the test driver during the Goodyear Tire Test at the Charlotte “Roval” last October.
Car owner Richard Childress said Hemric has showcased what he brings to the table after making the Championship 4 as an Xfinity Series rookie last season.
“Since joining our organization, Daniel Hemric has shown his determination and dedication to this sport both on and off the track,” said Childress. “He has proven his ability behind the wheel by making the Championship 4 in the Xfinity Series in 2017 and his continued success this season. Making his Cup Series debut is the next step in his career and we are proud to have him take that step with RCR.”
In 38 previous Xfinity Seires starts, Hemric has won two poles and finished in the top-10 in half of his races. Hemric currently sits fifth in the Xfinity Series standings after scoring his first top-five of the season at Auto Club Speedway last Saturday.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 20, 2018