By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Quiet, but solid performances is what the two NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars from the Richard Childress Racing camp brought to the table in the weather-plagued DC Solar 200 at ISM Raceway Saturday, won by Brad Keselowski.
After finishing fifth last November, Daniel Hemric continued his success at Phoenix with a sixth-place finish.
Hemric’s No. 21 South Point Chevrolet kept its nose inside the top-10, reaching as high as second when he took the green-checkered flag to wrap-up stage two, only trailing Kyle Busch.
Before the final stage went underway, Hemric pitted to make track bar and air pressure adjustments, restarting 16th.
Once the final stage commenced, Hemric didn’t waste his time and climbed back just shy of reaching the top-five running order where he stayed for the remainder of the race.
Hemric’s second consecutive sixth-place finish in as many races also marked his third straight top-1o finish at the one-mile oval and climbed from ninth to fifth in the points standings.
Matt Tifft scored his first top-10 finish since joining RCR this season, finishing seventh after running fifth for most of stage three.
Tifft started ninth and showcased his capabilities of methodically improving his track position throughout the afternoon, but with rain looming during the closest stages of stage two, Tifft remained quiet and was running in sixth.
Then a Lap 83 caution for Matt Mills slapping the Turn 1 wall, the No. 2 Dollar Shave Club Chevrolet pitted for fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment before the race was halted for rain.
Once the track was dried, the race resumed and was settled in a one-lap shootout. Tifft crossed the line in 17th.
Several drivers in front of Tifft pitted, moving him up to seventh on the restart. From there, his car was dialed in and was the best RCR car in the field and eventually passed Hemric for fifth.
Tifft hung on to his track position before pitting where he three spots after the cycle of stops, preventing him from scoring his first top-five oval finish since July 2016 at Kentucky.
The 21-year-old Hinckley, Ohio native later gained a spot and stayed there when he took the checkered flag. His seventh-place run was his best at Phoenix after finishing 12th and 11th in his two prior Xfinity Series starts.
Both drivers look to continue their solid momentum in the final leg of the “West Coast Swing” March 17 as they travel to Southern California for the Auto Club 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Last season, both drivers finished outside the top-10 with Hemric scoring 11th and Tifft settling for 17th.
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