Driver Off Day: Daniel Hemric Unwinds Away From Racing

The life of Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Hemric is about to ramp up as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender prepares for his first appearance in the post-season Playoffs.

The Kannapolis, North Carolina native got to this point through hard work at the shop and at the track, determination, focus and constant communication throughout the week with crew chief Danny Stockman and the entire No. 21 team. Yet, like anyone, Hemric needs time to unwind and relax. This spring, we followed Hemric around for one of his rare off days to see how the 26-year-old driver slows down away from racing.

This spring, we followed Hemric around for one of his rare off days to see how the 26-year-old driver slows down away from racing.

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Daniel Hemric earned a spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs during his rookie season.

The most important part of the day

Hemric’s daily routine begins at 6:45 a.m. every morning when he wakes up and gets going. The morning starts with a light breakfast of two or three fried eggs and some toast. “I try to not eat anything too heavy, but I’m able to eat a little bit more on the off weeks,” Hemric says with a smile.

Pushing the limits off the track

More than ever, drivers need to be at their peak physical condition to compete at NASCAR’s top levels and Hemric is fully aware of that. So, after breakfast around 7:45 a.m. Hemric heads to the gym for his daily workout. Last year he worked with U.S. Olympic gold medal speed skater Dan Jansen as a trainer, but this season he has taken what he learned and put it to use daily.

“When I was a teenager, I didn’t have time to work out,” says Hemric. “I was literally staying up all night, building race cars, eating poorly on the road, all of the things you’re not supposed to do. I then had to go to the track and race. While I was having success on the track, I could feel it was taking its toll on me. Night after night, week after week. Now that I have the opportunity where other guys are building my race cars and taking care of those details, I can focus on myself and take care of myself better than I ever have. I just feel better. Now that I have time to take care of myself, now that I can live a healthier lifestyle on a day-to-day basis, I feel like it makes a huge impact inside the car.”

A different kind of drive

Following the gym, Hemric heads home to clean up, play with his dog, Millie, and meet up with his wife, Kenzie, for a 10:30 a.m. tee time at the golf course. Climbing inside his Chevrolet Silverado, Hemric’s radio automatically turns to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 so he can stay up-to-date on the latest in the NASCAR world. Even on his off day, he remains connected to the racing world.

With Hemric’s move to the NASCAR ranks, his life has provided the opportunity to find time to slow down and not spend all his time living and breathing race cars. With some of that new-found free time, Hemric has a new-found hobby: golf. While he played off-and-on for a few years, he has become more serious about the game over the last two years. Kenzie is just getting started with the game and Daniel is happy to help her learn.

“Hopefully when we’re retired she’ll be good and we can have fun with it,” he jokes.

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Kenzie Hemric prepares to tee off while Daniel keeps a close on her form.

 

Driving around the course playing 18 holes, it’s clear that although golf allows Hemric to relax and unwind from the stresses of racing, it is still all business when he has the clubs in his hand. In fact, Hemric’s golf game helps with his racing in a roundabout way.

“Golf is the most challenging thing I’ve probably ever done in my life because you can take yourself in or out of the game so quick,” he says. “A lot of that translates over into racing, trying to control everything and keeping yourself in the game. It’s good to challenge myself. I try to do it with no lessons and what I can learn to adjust on my own. I compare that to changing racetrack conditions and going out there and finding what works and what doesn’t on your own. During the four hours it takes to play golf you have to be entirely focused on that to learn on the fly and push yourself to get better at the same time.”

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Golf allows Hemric to unwind, but also provides a challenge for him away from the racetrack.

Golf also allows Hemric to connect with his fellow racers and build those bonds away from the track. Over the last year he has hit the links with Austin and Ty Dillon, Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“It’s good to get outside the stresses that we all put ourselves in at the racetrack – that’s what we want to do and what we love to do – but it’s good to see each other in a different atmosphere,” he says.

From putting green to the green thumb

With 18 holes of golf in the books, Hemric heads home at 3:30 p.m. but remains outdoors. It is spring, which means Daniel and Kenzie are ready to prepare their garden and plant for the upcoming season.

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From the golf course to the garden, Daniel Hemric stays busy outside on his day off.

Daniel tills the soil, adds fresh topsoil, strategically plants seven rows of corn, zucchini, okra, squash and tomatoes, and adds fertilizer to help it grow. While growing a garden is a nice side project, it also helps Hemric maintain that healthy lifestyle he has been working toward the last few years.

“It’s cool to develop something,” Hemric says of his new garden. “To put a seed in the ground and watch it grow. It takes some time, you must be patient with it and there’s upkeep involved with it.”

Hemric got serious about growing his own garden after spending time with friends in California who had a full greenhouse and multiple gardens.

“When it came time to eat dinner, we didn’t go anywhere. They grew whatever we wanted – fruits, vegetables, spices, whatever. They literally had everything there except the meat,” he says. “It was cool to see how they were able to control their eating habits by having that in their backyard, so Kenzie and I decided we needed to try. It gives Kenzie and me something to do together and we both enjoy it.”

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Kenzie and Daniel look over what they are about to plant in the garden.

Keeping up with Millie

Between chores in the garden, Daniel and Kenzie spend time playing with their Teacup Yorkie, Millie. Don’t let the small size fool you, Millie is full of energy and loves to play. The Hemric’s throw a ball as Millie races around the yard playing fetch. It is clear the couple love their dog and she is a major part of the family.

“Millie is like our kid,” Hemric says as she sits on the couch next to him. “When the Legends Million was coming up at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kenzie and I made a bet that if one of us won the race the other one got to pick something they really wanted to get and we’d make it happen, and she wanted a dog. I ended up winning the race and I had to get her a Teacup Yorkie, it’s what she always wanted. Millie is short for million, so that’s where her name came from. We’ve had her seven years now, we’ve had her since she was a baby, and she’s like our kid. She definitely keeps us on our toes, because she’s wide open.”

“I ended up winning the race and I had to get her a Teacup Yorkie, it’s what she always wanted,” he said. “Millie is short for million, so that’s where her name came from. We’ve had her seven years now, we’ve had her since she was a baby, and she’s like our kid. She definitely keeps us on our toes, because she’s wide open.”

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Millie is full of energy and like a child to Daniel and Kenzie Hemric.

Time to unwind

With a full day in the books, Hemric finally settles in for a quiet dinner with Kenzie around 5 p.m.

Hemric’s day away from the shop and the racing world was anything but an ‘off’ day. Staying active and keeping busy is certainly something the 26-year-old racer loves to do. The routine keeps him focused throughout the day but still allows him to take the occasional break needed in this always-on-the-go sport.

He tries his best to enjoy these days, because when they are over it’s back to the grind and back to business at the shop and at the track, trying to win races and go for a championship at the end of the year.