By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will mark a new stage in Daniel Hemric’s journey. Joining the Kannapolis, N.C. native on his journey is his wife, Kenzie.
In 2019, Hemric will compete for Sunoco Rookie of the Year with Richard Childress Racing. He joins Austin Dillon at the storied organization. Hemric will also assume the driving reigns of the No. 8 that many associate with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Throughout Hemric’s journey, his wife has been there, whether she was on his pit box in recent years or competing on track herself. Kenzie reached the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East three years before Daniel, competing for three full seasons.
As Hemric moved into the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, the schedule took him to several tracks that he had not yet competed on, tracks that Kenzie had raced on. At a couple of those tracks, she earned top-10 finishes, including her career-best, a runner-up finish at Iowa Speedway.
Hemric recalled leaning on Kenzie for his first trips to several tracks.
“Kenzie and I have been together for almost 10 years now. We did a lot of racing together. There were times in my career where she was way further ahead in terms of ranking of cars. I remember sweeping the floor of her late model shop while I was still in legends cars. As time went on, she was able to run the K&N Series at Watkins Glen, Richmond, Dover that I had never been to.
“So, when I went for the first time, I leaned on her, asking ‘what are the things that stuck out.’ And she understands my mindset and my thought process, preparation for a race. So, she knows what I need to know and don’t need to know. Because of that, I’ve been able to hone in on some things that you can only get from the drivers’ perspective. It’s a cool dynamic, and something that’s helped me for sure along the way.”
Hemric’s journey into NASCAR’s Premier Series has been an accelerated one. In 2010, he turned heads winning the Legends Million at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hemric quickly moved up the NASCAR ladder, despite having yet to win a race. He has made the Playoffs every year it has been utilized in a Series he competed in, Trucks in 2016 and Xfinity in 2017 and 2018.
“For me the journey honestly, it’s kind of like a blur in the mix of how fast, but not fast it’s all happened,” Hemric explained. “But then, I can let myself think about those nights of rebuilding cars from the time the Legend’s Million happened how that catapulted my career to late models, to tour type modifieds and so on and so forth. I look back at those particular moments that is what makes it slow down.
“That is what puts it in perspective for me to be here and know that the work was put in and because of that you can still be rewarded for that. I think I’m prouder of that than anything else of how I’ve been fortunate to get into this situation that I am. I could have never done it without guys just taking a leap of faith. That goes all the way back to the legend car days. I was 12 or 13 years old with no ride and no family support and if you want to race you’ve got to figure it out. I stand here today saying it’s worked out to this point.”