By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
JR Motorsports announced Wednesday their 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series lineup for the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro, headlined by Daniel Hemric.
The other two sharing the No. 8 Camaro are none other than Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for one race and Jeb Burton, who’s slated to compete in 11 races.
Hemric, who’s looking to win Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, will run 21 out of the 33 races.
Hemric’s current ride, the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, will be run by Championship 4 contender Tyler Reddick next season. If he were to win ROTY honors in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400, he’ll be the fifth Cup driver (Kevin Conway, Andy Lally, Stephen Leicht and Brett Moffitt) this decade to not have a full-time Cup deal the following season.
However, Dale Jr. said Hemric’s competitive nature and growth as a driver will be valuable to the team’s strong vision of bringing home the owner’s title, which is the No. 8 team’s sole purpose.
“Daniel is a solid competitor with a great personality. He’ll be a quality addition to our lineup in 2020,” Dale Jr. said. “We’re lucky to have him. I feel like he has grown as a driver from his time in the Cup Series. That will be valuable to him with this new opportunity to compete in the Xfinity series. He’s a local Kannapolis (N.C.) native with a lot of determination to succeed, and I’m excited to work with him.”
Although yet to become a NASCAR winner, Hemric’s two seasons in Xfinity at RCR were a model of strong consistency. In 66 starts, he’s scored five poles, 23 top-fives and 39 top-10s with a third-place campaign in 2018.
Hemric thanked the entire Earnhardt family and the JRM squad for giving him a home next season as he’ll hope to end his Cup tenure strong before strapping himself in his new venture in 2020.
“I want to thank Dale, Kelley (Earnhardt Miler) and everyone at JR Motorsports for believing in me,” Hemric said. “For a Kannapolis boy like me, driving for the Earnhardt family is pretty awesome. My goal here is simple—to go win races for JR Motorsports and to help their program any way that I can.
“I’ve raced against their cars before and I know how they’re capable of running. My focus is on finishing the Cup season out strong, but once the checkered flag flies at Homestead, we’ll set our sights on getting the No. 8 car to Victory Lane early and often next season.”
JR Motorsports General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said having Hemric will make the four-car stable healthier than ever before.
“Having Daniel on board with our No. 8 team really solidifies things for JRM in 2020,” Earnhardt Miller said. “It puts the team in a healthy place with four cars running for a championship again, and we can’t wait to see how Daniel will perform next year. We have a ton of confidence in him and in the company’s direction.”
Hemric’s 21-race schedule and sponsorships will be announced at a later date.
This past season, the No. 8 team has had nine drivers (Burton, Dale Jr., Chase Elliott, Ryan Preece, Zane Smith, Ryan Truex, Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed, and Regan Smith) in the Camaro with seven top-fives and 22 top-10 finishes.
The No. 8 team is currently 10th in owner’s points with a runner-up by Ryan Truex in the spring race at Phoenix being the team’s best result to date. Burton’s best run was a fourth at Indianapolis and Dale Jr.’s lone start at Darlington resulted in a fifth-place finish.
Heading into Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the team has strong momentum after Burton, who will run the car, finished ninth at Texas and Zane Smith scoring his second fifth-place finish last Saturday at Phoenix.