By David Morgan, Associate Editor
CONCORD, N.C. – Defending champion Daniel Hemric gave it a run Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but in the end, he just didn’t have enough to stay alive in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and was eliminated from championship contention.
Starting the Drive for the Cure 250 on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course in third place, things were looking up for Hemric to be able to advance on to the Round of 8 by the time the checkered flag waved, but everything went awry early on for the driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.
Hemric ran off course in the infield section of the track, with the left front of his machine making contact with the tire barrier. While he was able to gather it back up and continue on, the damage had been done.
Following the crash, Hemric dropped below the cut-off line and never recovered. The Kannapolis, N.C. native would finish the race in 17th place, leaving him seven points shy of being able to transfer on to the next round.
“Just wasn’t able to salvage the finish that we had battled back for,” Hemric said. “Proud of everyone on this AG1 Camaro. Proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing. Thankful to be a part of the NASCAR Xfinity Series. I was hoping to go and defend the championship and carry on to the next round, but I made a mistake on Lap 3 or 4 that you cannot make. If you make those kind of mistakes, you don’t deserve to be here. Got to go to work. Got to be better myself.”
After winning the 2021 championship with Joe Gibbs Racing, Hemric moved over to Kaulig for the 2022 campaign, but wasn’t able to find the same success. Winless through the first 29 races of the season, Hemric only finished inside the top-five twice, along with 10 top-10 finishes.
“I’ll probably play this ROVAL race back time and time again. That’s what the season kind of felt like,” Hemric said. “It’s been a little bit of a rough go, but every one of these men and women continue to show up on this race team. I’m proud of that. Thankful to Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice for the call to come and drive this thing. They deserve better. I’ve got to be better. I look forward to the chance to work to be better.”
Following the race and the sting of defeat, Hemric took the time to congratulate his Kaulig teammate AJ Allmendinger, who scored his fourth-straight Charlotte win on Saturday.
Though his 2022 postseason came to an early end, there is a bright side to the Hemric and Kaulig relationship. On Sunday, Hemric, team owner Matt Kaulig, and general manager Chris Rice announced that Hemric would be back behind the wheel for the team in 2023 as he looks to avenge this season’s Playoff exit.
Hemric will join newcomer Chandler Smith and Landon Cassill to fill out the team’s three-car Xfinity Series stable.
“Kaulig Racing has welcomed me with open arms and I’m excited about the future we’re building together,” said Hemric. “I believe in Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice’s vision for this team, and know we’ve got some unfinished business to take care of next year. 2023 starts today.”