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Daniel Hemric Performing at Peak Level, ’16 Plans Unknown

It took a few months but Daniel Hemric has figured out the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and has suddenly taken on the appearance of a driver that could compete for wins and a championship if given the opportunity next season.

As it stands, Hemric doesn’t have anything lined up for 2016 even though he has begun talks with NTS Motorsports about a sophomore effort in the No. 14 Chevrolet Silverado.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out right now,” Hemric said on Monday night during the Popular Speed TearDown Radio show. “I can’t thank enough everyone at California Clean Power and Chevrolet for letting me do this.

“As far as the future goes, I don’t have anything planned for right now in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I don’t want to say the cliché that we’re taking it week-to-week but I’m just going to do my job. If we do that, I have faith that it will all turn out the way it’s supposed to.”

Hemric won’t need faith if he continues driving the way he has over the past two months. He hasn’t finished worse than ninth since Eldora in July and has climbed from 10th to fifth in the championship standings since Charlotte in May.

Despite a steep learning curve and rough start to his Truck Series career, Hemric has turned the corner and looks like a championship contender while racing head-to-head with the likes of Matt Crafton, Erik Jones and Tyler Reddick. Hemric says he isn’t sure what prompted the turnaround but was quick to praise his team, led by crew chief Ryan McKinney.

“I wish I knew what it was,” Hemric said. “We would multiply it and make a run at the whole thing this year. It’s just my guys, man. It’s Ryan McKinney and (owner) Bob Newberry giving me what we need in order to be successful at the highest level.

“We just have so much heart and so much passion and it’s been really cool to our guys so excited while taking this program to the next level, unloading fast everywhere we go. It’s really shown the past couple of weeks and it’s just exciting to be a part of it from the ground up — especially when you think about where we started at Daytona.”

All that remains for Hemric to do in order to push the issue on finding support and partners for a second season, is to win, and he feels like his team is close to achieving that goal.

“I’m not going to say that we have to do just one thing in order to win because you have to step everything you do to a higher level,” Hemric said. “It’s getting off pit road under green or being more precise on the set-up and feedback so I can let Ryan know what he needs to do.

“So if we can step up every facet of our game over the final couple of weeks, we’re going to have a shot at Victory Lane for sure.”

Hemric likely deserves a second shot at the Truck Series based on his progress this season but a victory over the stretch run will cement that notion and make it awfully hard to ignore.

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Daniel Hemric Starting to Deliver on Truck Series Expectations

BRISTOL, Tenn. — This is the Daniel Hemric that many expected to see when the popular Super Late Model standout made the full-time transition to NASCAR at the start of this season.

Hemric tied his best career result in the Camping World Truck Series on Wednesday night, recording a fourth-place finish for NTS Motorsports at Bristol Motor Speedway in the UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP.

After a somewhat slow start, Hemric has come on strong as of late, posting top-10s in eight of his last nine starts — climbing from ninth to fifth in the championship standings. Prior to this season, Hemric had made only three prior starts in the Truck Series and says this success is what happens when a talented team starts to build chemistry.

“It’s chemistry man,” Hemric said. “Working together. Obviously, you’re better working together after 14 races than you are in your first three or four starts. I’m proud of these guys for sticking with us because it has been an up and down year.”

Hemric began the season with five straight finishes of 10th or worst as he first began to adapt to the unique Camping World Truck Series competition package. Prior to a one-off start at Homestead in November, Hemric had never even raced on a track larger than a mile and admitted that he had much to learn about restarts and aerodynamics.

Suddenly amongst the best in the division, Hemric said time and patience has been the key to his success.

“I’m just thankful for California Clean Power for giving this team what they need to get us towards our ultimate goal of winning races,” Hemric said. “Really, if things had played out a little differently on that last restart, we might have had a shot and that’s all you can ask for.

“I’m just very thankful for this team for sticking with me. It’s been a tough year in some ways but now we’re running up front and showing what we’re capable of.”

Hemric says the variety of the schedule makes the learning curve so much steeper for him than it did in Legend Cars, Pro Late Models or Super Late Models, forcing him to have to learn a variety of aspects at the game at once, instead of zeroing in on a single challenge at once.

“The schedule is so diverse than you can’t sit down and just focus on learning one thing — like the aero or restarts,” Hemric said. “There is so much to this. I mean, we went from Eldora to Pocono to Bristol, so learning my crew and letting learn what I need and vice versa has been the biggest key to our turnaround.”

So is it too soon to start talking about his first career win?

“We still have to work to do,” Hemric said. “We didn’t unload too far off (on Wednesday) but the key for us is that we kept making up ground. We didn’t really take a step back all night and got better all the way up to the checkered flag.

“We were so much better by the end of the race from where we started. That’s how we’re going to turn some of these races into wins.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Daniel Hemric Earns Top-5 in His Dirt Debut at Eldora

ROSSBURG, Ohio — By short track standards, Daniel Hemric is far from a rookie but he was very much a fish out of water entering the Mudsummer Classic on a Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway.

Despite having never turned a lap on dirt in any type of machine, the Super Late Model standout turned NASCAR contender willed his way to a fifth-place finish at the dusty Western Ohio short track.

Hemric immediately credited his crew and teammates at NTS Motorsports who provided him a truck that made it easier to learn a brand new discipline on the fly.

“We had really good balance on the California Clean Power Chevrolet as soon as we unloaded,” Hemric said. “Hats off to NTS Motorsports. They put a lot into this and it was really good to have Austin Dillon as a teammate and having his notes to let us know what to expect.

“We were spot on there for a little bit but not so much at the end.”

Hemric started 17th but quickly worked his way through the field and was running just outside of the top-5 for much of the second half. By the end of the race, Hemric said he was feeling at his most confident and could have had something for the leaders if he just had better track positon.

With his sixth top-10 of the season, Hemric also climbed two spots in the championship standings to seventh. The result equals his career best finish, matching his previous fifth-place at Dover in June.

“The fans enjoyed it so I did too,” Hemric added. “It’s really cool to be here and to be a part of history. It’s cool to see Christopher Bell get his first win because we’ve raced against him in Late Models and he’s a really good kid.”

Hemric said his overall lack of dirt experience was the biggest obstacle he had to overcome throughout the night. He compared racing on dirt to two of slickest asphalt short tracks in the discipline in Five Flags Speedway and Pensacola and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.

“I’m an asphalt guy right — that’s my biggest challenge,” Hemric added. “It’s a lot different. This is cool. We had good balance, and it was just a matter of me getting better as a driver throughout the day. I felt like we were about where we needed to be by the green flag.

“It was cool to experience how the race track changes during a race because you hear these dirt guys talk about moisture. Overall, it’s cool to come to Eldora and get a top-5.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Daniel Hemric Upbeat Despite Disappointing Result at Texas

FORT WORTH, Tex. — All Daniel Hemric could do was offer a wry smile upon climbing out of his NTS Motorsports Chevrolet on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

On one hand, Hemric posted a ninth-place finish, his second straight top-10 and third in four starts. On the other, the 24-year-old knows he had a truck capable of winning and may have had a shot if not for a fender rub that cut his tire and sent him spinning in front of the field with five laps to go.

He restarted 10th on the Green-White-Checkered and picked up one spot in the frantic melee. Ever the optimist, Hemric chalked up his bad luck as something he couldn’t control and is simply looking forward to the race next weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.

“We fired off on that last 20 lap sprint,” Hemric said. “I got a lot more travel in the rear and had a fender rub — something you can’t really predict. Everyone is just driving so hard at the end. The air pressure came up and I thought we were going to be okay but then the left rear hit the body and cut the tire down.

“I’m surprised I didn’t wreck the field. But all in all, I’m really proud of our guys. The finish ain’t going to show it but we had a really fast California Clean Power Chevrolet. Ugh. We’ll take this and build on it.”

Hemric is still learning how to race on mile-and a-halfs after spending the majority of his career on short tracks and in Legends and Super Late Models. Friday night was only his fifth time racing on an intermediate speedway but Hemric believes he’s made the adjustment with crew chief Ryan McKinney.

“It’s been big because I feel like we’ve struggled on our race run stuff,” Hemric said. “This weekend, we were off when we unloaded but made it better and better. We were able to continue to get better and better throughout the race. Ryan kept making great calls and good adjustments and great pit stops got us track position.

“We did everything we could do. We just can’t control the tire.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Erik Jones, Daniel Hemric Show Speed But Get Derailed on Pit Road

HAMPTON, Ga. — Erik Jones appeared to have the only truck capable of hanging with a dominant Matt Crafton on Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway but a pair of pit road problems eliminated his track position and ultimately cost him the chance to battle for his first win of the season.

Jones led twice for 37 laps and was the only driver able to keep pace with Crafton over the course of a long run. However, he slid through his pit box twice during the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 and he finished seventh.

He accepted blame for his first issue but placed the second on Daniel Hemric — who prevented him from making a clean entrance into his stall.
Hemric had run out of fuel on the final round of pit stops and was unable to get on the throttle. His No. 14 Chevrolet had cut off, forcing Jones to slide through his own pit box as a result.

At the end of the day, Jones was happy with the speed of his truck, especially given his relative inexperience on intermediate speedways like Atlanta.

“It doesn’t take away from what we really did today,” Jones said. “We had a good Tundra — one that I felt like could win the race. We just had two mishaps, battled back from it and the second one under green was too much to overcome.

“It’s unfortunate but we’ll come back at Martinsville here and keep getting better.”

Hemric started the race in 12th and quickly worked his way inside the top-10 in just his fourth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start. It was by far his best overall performance in the Truck Series and a clear improvement from his first intermediate start last November at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Hemric said his team just made a slight miscalculation on their fuel mileage.

“Based on our fuel mileage from that first run, we should have been good for at least another lap,” Hemric said. “But it shut off coming off of Turn 2 and I hit pit road a lap early. I had to check up for a guy (Jones) coming in his stall and it died completely.

“It took a little bit to get it refired — a 10-12 second delay and that put us several laps down. It’s not an obstacle you can overcome that late in the race.”
Hemric finished four laps down in 19th. Ever the optimist, Hemric says he learned from the experience, especially when he was running in the top-10 with the likes of Crafton and Hemric.

“It was cool there to run with those guys early in the run and figure out how to make our truck better,” Hemric said. “The only way you’re going to learn is be around those guys. We had a really fast California Clean Chevy but it’s just unfortunate that we ran out of fuel there.

“We were off a little bit with our fuel mileage but that’s a part of it.”

Jones left Atlanta with a similar perspective, pleased with the intermediate speed of his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota

“I’m still learning, trying to get better on the mile and a half stuff,” Jones said. “I’m trying to figure that out. So hopefully we’ll be a little bit better next time and be up there contending for the win.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Daniel Hemric at Home in NASCAR, Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After an off-season filled with phone calls and uncertainty, @DanielHemric finally achieved a major career goal when he secured a full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series late last month.  With the business aspect of racing behind him, Hemric is now totally focused on his coming transition from Late Models to the Major Leagues and is looking forward to taming some of the toughest tracks in the country with NTS Motorsports and the No. 14 team.

Despite his inspirational personality and successful short track career, not even Hemric was immune to the struggles of a young drivers who needed funding to take the next step of his career. After making his intermediate debut with NTS Motorsports at Homestead in November, Hemric felt confident that he would have something to announced early in the off-season.

Unfortunately, the money just didn’t materialize as quickly as everyone had hoped.

“It went south there for a little bit,” Hemric told Popular Speed on Friday afternoon. “I even wrote it off at one point and made peace with the fact that I was going to be in Late Models for another year. But over the past three weeks, it really started to come together. Bob Newberry, Chris Rice and I came in contact with these guys from California and sat down and worked it out and now we’re here.”

California is a reference to California Clean Power who will be on his Truck for a number of Truck Series events in 2015.

Hemric said he was used to the rigors of sponsorship negotiation but admitted that the pressure increased substantially because there is so much more on the line when discussing NASCAR plans.

“It’s about making the investors and sponsors believe in the team you’re taking the money to or not,” Hemric said. “The biggest thing is that once you get them to believe you, you have to get the numbers to make sense on paper. At the end of the day, the business side is key. It’s been interesting to me because I’ve always raced on a handshake.

“It’s a different way to go about it but I’m just excited that everything all worked out.”

The deal allows Hemric to do what he does best and focus on the driving aspect of his job. After initially struggling at Homestead, Hemric is looking forward to the second race of the season at Atlanta to execute the skills he gained during the season finale last year.

Prior to racing in that event, the only seat time he received on a track larger than one mile was the two practice sessions that preceeded that event. Hemric struggled on restarts and in dirty air throughout the race but seemed to put it together over the final 20 laps, charging from outside the top-20 to a 12th-place finish. Atlanta represents the next stage of his evolution as a NASCAR driver.

“I’m just excited to go to Atlanta because of how Homestead ended for us,” Hemric said. “We haven’t tested anywhere because of the NASCAR testing ban but I believe we are allowed a certain number in the future as a rookie.  Whether that is one, two or five hasn’t been dictated to us yet, but whatever it is, we’re going to take full advantage of it and use it in a way that will help our program overall.”

Hemric will also run a handful of ARCA races, including the season opener on Saturday at Daytona as a trial run with crew chief Ryan McKinney before their debut at the same track next weekend. For Hemric, the continuity and job security is something that he believes will only decrease his learning curve.

“I’m excited just because I know I will be with a team on every Friday night and that I can race with them week in and week out. It’s cool to have that kind of stability because you can take the things you learned and apply them the following week.”

As for his Daytona debut in the ARCA Series, Hemric hopes to find a little more speed before the drop of the green flag but believes he has the ability to win, especially given the unpredictable nature of restrictor plate competition with these old Sprint Cup cars.

“If you’re in, it’s a good as anything,” Hemric said. “I don’t want to say it’s the luck of the draw but it kind of is. From watching this race in the past, 25th is as good as the pole — if you’re in the race, you have a shot.”

The opening ARCA practice session on Thursday afternoon was more dramatic than those of recent memory as teams went three-wide on numerous occasions in the attempts to prepare for Friday’s group qualifying session. While Hemric found himself in a few precarious positions, he says it was positive experience that should benefit him come the start of the race.

“Practice was real eye opening,” Hemric said. “It got intense for a little bit. I think ARCA has done a great job of mandating the specs of the car and keeping the field tighter so to say. The guys that have had an advantage in the past have come back to the rest of the field and that’s helped the racing.

“I don’t think we have the fastest car in terms of pure speed but it drives well. It’s just a matter of hitting the air right and staying out of trouble.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Daniel Hemric to Drive Full Truck Schedule in 2015 for NTS Motorsports

One of the most popular and successful short track drivers of recent memory is making his way to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015 as NTS Motorsports announced on Monday the signing of Daniel Hemric to drive full-time in the team’s No. 14 entry.

The 24-year-old, nicknamed “Hotshoe Hemric,” has three previous Truck Series starts, including one with NTS at Homestead in November. He previously competed at Martinsville and Phoenix for Sharp-Gallaher Racing team back in 2013.

Hemric will also participate in three ARCA Racing Series events for NTS in its No. 92 car, with support from crew chief Ryan McKinney in both divisions. California Clean Power will sponsor Hemric at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway in Trucks, as well as the Daytona ARCA race. Additional marketing partners will be announced in the coming weeks.

Hemric has spent the last three seasons driving a Super Late Model for Carswell Motorsports out of Woodstock, Georgia where he captured the 2013 Southern Super Series championship and won the prestigious Redbud 300 at Anderson Motor Speedway back in June. Prior to that, he drove Pro Late Models and Legends, where he won the JEGS Tour Championship and Legends Million at Charlotte Motor Speedway respectively.

NTS Strengthens Entire Operation for 2015

In addition to the news that Hemric will compete full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, NTS also announced that Rick Carelli would serve as the team’s General Manager. Chris Rice will maintain his role as NTS Competition Director in addition to serving as crew chief for the No. 31 NASCAR Truck.It was also announced that 2012 Truck Series champion James Buescher will join the team in a part-time role, driving the previously mentioned No. 31.

The NTS No. 20 will also return to the Truck Series this season, and will be piloted by 16-year-old Gray Gaulding and veteran Scott Lagasse, Jr. Gaulding will compete in nine events this season, while Lagasse is currently scheduled for Daytona and Homestead. Gaulding will also return to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2015, where he will seek to capture the season championship in his third full-time effort.

Gaulding has made a total of 35 combined starts between the K&N East and West Series and has earned one victory, nine top-5s and 20 top-10s. Doug Howe will serve as crew chief for the team’s East Series efforts.

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Daniel Hemric Posts Top-12 in Intermediate Debut

By Matt Weaver (MIAMI) — Despite his vast experience on short tracks all across the country, @DanielHemric had never experienced anything quite like Homestead Miami Speedway this weekend and did not adapt to his first Truck Series start on an intermediate speedway until well into the closing stages of the Ford EcoBoost 200 on Friday night.

Hemric finished 12th but was forced to battle his way through copious amounts of early adversity in the first half of the race when the competition process at a speedway remained novel to the short track lifer.

Unhappy with the balance of his car after the initial start, Hemric pitted under caution on lap 4 and restarted at the tail end of the field. He struggled on restarts throughout the night, losing track position nearly every time he hit Turn 1. As a result, he essentially used the entire event as a test session given that this was his first time turning laps on a track larger than a mile.

He spent most of the afternoon outside of the top-15 but really started to establish momentum and consistency over the final two restarts with 25 laps to go. During that span, he climbed from 18th to 12th and now wishes he could do it all over again.

“I wish we could just line up again and start over because this was like learning an entire season’s worth of knowledge in one race and 134 laps,” Hemric told Popular Speed after the race. “I just want to thank everyone at NTS Racing and Tim Fedewa on the spotter’s stand — he just helped me lap after lap.

“Everyone just put their heart and souls into this deal and I’m so grateful to them for helping me to chase my dreams.”

Hemric said he was ultimately satisfied with a top-12 finish but again reiterated a desire to restart the race with everything he had just learned and give it a second go-around.

“All in all, you can’t get greedy in this sport and I’m thankful that all the fenders are on it,” Hemric said. “We came here to log all the laps, give it our all and I feel like we did just that.”

Hemric was required by NASCAR to run this race in order to earn approval for a potential start at Daytona International Speedway in February. With that said, the 2013 Southern Super Series champion doesn’t have a deal in place yet for next season and is working on putting the parts together for at least a partial schedule.

“I really just need the financial backing and support from all the partners that have supported us over the years,” Hemric said. “I think if we can put some of those folks together, we might have something to announce down the road.”

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Daniel Hemric Returns to Truck Series with Homestead One-Off

By Matt Weaver (HOMESTEAD, Fla.) — @DanielHemric hopes that success this weekend in the Truck Series event at Homestead Miami Speedway will lead to future opportunities in NASCAR and perhaps jump start a career for the popular short track veteran.

Hemric made his first two starts in the Truck Series last season at Martinsville and Phoenix for Sharp Gallaher Racing and was set to make a third at Homestead before the team started to unravel, ultimately shutting down by December.

Then the defending Southern Super Series (Super Late Model) champion, Hemric returned to short track competition in 2014, finishing second to Bubba Pollard in the final SSS championship standings while winning prestigious races at both Anderson Speedway and Mobile International Speedway.

He maintained his previous success on short tracks while concurrently working to return to NASCAR at some point, something he was able to accomplish with this one-off opportunity in the NTS Motorsports No. 20 in the season-ending event in South Florida.

It was important for Hemric to make his first start on an intermediate speedway this season because NASCAR mandates it in order to approve him for a possible start next season at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. In short, Hemric can’t even entertain the idea of running a full schedule in the Truck Series until he earns his superspeedway license — the primary goal for the weekend.

“With NASCAR and their approval process, you have to run here to even have the option to run at Daytona,” Hemric told Popular Speed. “In order for me to look at something for next season, we needed to run here.

“I feel really fortunate to have everyone who worked countless hours over the past couple of nights to put this together — and First Community Bank for coming on board to pull this deal off. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”

Hemric was able to get both support and advice from the Dillon family as he had a pre-existing friendship with both Ty and Austin over the past several years. That relationship is going to play dividends as Hemric turns his first laps on an intermediate track this weekend.

Hemric was not able to test the Truck before the weekend and has yet to make a start, in any series, on a track larger than one mile. It’s a challenge that he looks forwards to undertaking over the next two days.

“My first test will be lap one under green,” Hemric said with a chuckle. “It’s going to be pretty intense but I’m excited about it. I’ve received a lot of really good advice from Austin and Ty — everyone at RCR. They’ve been really good about giving me a heads up for what to expect.

“And this morning, I arrived at the track and realized that I have a lot of awesome fans who want to see me do well this weekend and that only further pumped me up for this opportunity. I’m going to give it my best shot.”

Hemric says the most valuable piece of advice the Dillon brothers have given him thus far is regarding the tire management skills needed to succeed at Homestead.

“They’ve told me that this place is a little different than the other (intermediate) tracks on the schedule,” Hemric said. “It almost takes off wide open but it’s almost like running at (very abrasive) Pensacola after five laps because you have to peddle it off the corner because of how slick it is.

“There’s a lot of grip but tire management is key. Hopefully that will play into my hands because I have a lot of experience with this due to those rougher tracks in the Deep South.”

In a perfect world, Hemric hopes that he can finish inside the top-10 on Friday night and impress potential sponsors and backers for additional Truck Series races next season.

“Anytime you get with a team like NTS, you want to go out there and perform at the highest level,” Hemric said. This deal ain’t no joke. I know the learning curve is more on me than the team so if I can do what I need to do — communicate well with (crew chief) Chris Rice — I think we’ll be pretty good.

“From there, you hope that success will run off into next season but I’m not entirely sure yet. Hopefully we have a good run and we’ll be able to announce more plans.”