As Daniel Hemric prepares to begin his first season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, he will do so driving a number familiar to not only Richard Childress Racing but also himself. Hemric will pilot the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro throughout his rookie year, the first time RCR will field the number since 2012.
Making its return this season, the No. 21 has been one of RCR’s more successful numbers in the XFINITY Series, and Hemric hopes to continue that trend. He also used No. 21 throughout his early career, also finding success.
Making a Name in the No. 21
Hemric first used the No. 21 in 2007 while racing Legends Cars in North Carolina. Growing up racing for other team owners, Hemric often drove whatever number the particular owner already had on the car. However, when given the opportunity to select his own number, the young driver knew there was really only one choice.
“I started racing for this owner and he told me I had to pick my number,” said Hemric. “I never had that option, but I started looking through things and tried to think about a number that always appealed to me, and I always circled back to the RCR No. 21. I just really liked the font and how it looked on the racetrack. No matter what the brand, the paint scheme or driver behind the wheel that was just something I always liked.”
As Hemric made his way up the ranks through Legends Cars, modifieds and late models, he did so driving the No. 21 car whenever he had the opportunity to pick his number. Now, as he prepares to enter a new phase in his driving career, he is back behind the wheel of his favorite number.
“It was honestly surreal. You couldn’t help but laugh when you looked at how things come full circle,” he said. “To become a part of RCR was a very exciting moment for me and my family, but to be able to use the No. 21 was the icing on the cake. Luckily, I was able to have a lot of success with that number growing up. One of the biggest wins of my career came in the No. 21, the Legends Car Million at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hopefully, we can repeat and have similar success this year.”
Rich History at RCR
While Hemric has a history in the No. 21, RCR has its own storied history with the number. First used by RCR in the XFINITY Series in 2000 with Mike Dillon behind the wheel, the No. 21 has recorded 24 wins at 18 different tracks with three different drivers. It has also earned 108 top fives, 159 top 10s, 18 poles and the 2006 championship. That season, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and crew chief Shane Wilson earned nine wins, 15 top-two and 21 top-five finishes in the No. 21.
Now serving as crew chief for Brendan Gaughan and the No. 62 XFINITY Series team, Wilson gets a big smile when he thinks about seeing the RCR No. 21 back on the track this season.
“That number had a lot of success for us here at RCR,” said Wilson. “I was lucky enough to be the crew chief on that car for the 2006 season and the U.S. Coast Guard came on as a partner and Kevin Harvick essentially ran the full season in the No. 21. He ran a few races in his own cars, but the majority of the season was in the RCR No. 21 Chevrolet. When Kevin wasn’t driving Jeff Burton was, and Jeff was still very much a threat to win at that point in his career and did a very good job for us in that car. It was very fun, we had a lot of wins and ran very competitively each week. I had a lot of fun in 2006. Even in 2007, we had a lot of drivers in that car and we still won a lot of races.
“It’s absolutely cool to see it return this season,” he said. “I was surprised it went away for a little bit, but it’s great to see it back. I obviously feel a connection to it, having served as the crew chief on that car for three years.”
A New Chapter
Leading the charge for Hemric and the No. 21 team this season is veteran XFINITY Series crew chief Danny Stockman. With 150 series starts to his credit, Stockman has found success with RCR’s No. 2, No. 3 and No. 33.
Understanding the history of the No. 21, he now looks to help lead the number back to its former glory and put it back in Victory Lane with a rookie behind the wheel.
“When I heard we were going to be the No. 21, I was pretty jacked up,” said Stockman. “If it wasn’t going to be the No. 3 – which I’ve worked on for many years – the No. 21 would be the next choice. All of the history RCR has with that number, with Shane Wilson and all of those guys winning races and dominating for all of those years, it’s exciting to bring it back. Hopefully, we can do it justice.”