By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
SPARTA, Ky. – For the third time in his career, Daniel Hemric has finished runner-up in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway appeared to be Hemric’s best chance to date to break into victory lane.
Hemric battled with Justin Allgaier and Christopher Bell throughout the final 65 laps. The Richard Childress Racing driver’s No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro SS swept by Kyle Busch with ease on lap 144 for the lead. A few laps later, Hemric lost the lead to Allgaier on a restart. Then Allgaier, Bell, and Hemric battled over the course of the next 50 laps, often side-by-side or nose-to-tail for the lead. Ultimately, Bell ended up in victory lane, with Hemric second.
“I know if I was sitting at home watching, it would have been a heck of a race to watch,” Hemric explained. “From my perspective, especially having a show there at the end, I wish I had maybe done some things differently on my end to execute and get my guys a win. I thought the racing was really good considering the repave. It was good to see comers and goers at times throughout the race.”
As the trio battled, they often had to weave their way in and out of lap traffic. One close call allowed both Bell and Hemric to close in on Allgaier. A few laps later, the lap traffic would benefit Bell. Then it would benefit Hemric. None of the drivers were able to break away, but neither Hemric or Allgaier could catch Bell.
“Lap traffic-wise, I thought I maintained as good as I possibly could,” Hemric admitted. “There were times where I would catch somebody, but not exactly where I wanted to. The guy in front of me would catch them the next time in an inopportune spot. I would get some (ground) and give some back.
“Honestly, when I was the leader there, I chose the bottom and I was really free on the bottom. It would take me a lap and a half to get up to speed. I would have chose the top and at least try to help myself have air on the right side. Justin did a good job there doing everything he’s supposed to do. We all know the importance of getting clean air. Whoever would get out front would have a huge advantage for the next 10 laps or so.”
The second-place finish is the ninth top-five finish for Hemric this season. It also makes him tied for the Championship Points Lead for the first time in his career. He is second as Elliott Sadler has more top-five finishes than Hemric. He is now 246-points ahead of the cutoff for the Playoffs, held by Ross Chastain.
The second-place finish also comes in Hemric’s 50thcareer start.