In the early 2000s, Daniel Hemric began racing quarter-midget race cars on the local short tracks in North Carolina. He was an aspiring stock car driver from Kannapolis, who grew up idolizing guys like Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace.
Around that same time, Hemric began competing against Austin and Ty Dillon, who also were aspiring NASCAR drivers with family ties to Richard Childress Racing. Fifteen years later, the three are teammates under the RCR NASCAR XFINITY Series banner, competing for driver and owner championships.
In his rookie XFINITY Series season, Hemric has already put up some solid numbers – in 11 starts he has two top-five and four top-10 finishes, including a pole at Richmond International Raceway and a Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Off the race track, Hemric is thoughtful, engaging and hands on. He’s often times found in the race shop strategizing with crew chief Danny Stockman, engineers and teammates, or working on his craft as a driver. Hemric also makes time for a newfound hobby, golf, and spending time with his wife, Kenzie.
He uses his Instagram page (@danielhemric) to showcase most of his off-the-track endeavors and recently discussed some of his favorite photos in detail.
In March, Hemric spent time at Ron Fellows driving school to fine-tune his road course racing skills
“Chevrolet puts a lot of emphasis and resources into their younger drivers, coming up [through racing]. They sent a few of the younger Chevy drivers out to the Ron Fellows driving school to take a lesson on road course racing. We drove a production Corvette on a track in Las Vegas and it really taught me the fundamentals of road course racing. The Corvette is not a race car, it’s a production car that doesn’t have race breaks, race transmission or race suspension. So, it teaches us to slow down and be smooth through the turns and the transmission. Ron Fellows is an incredible teacher and I’ve seen success in the few road courses I’ve raced.”
Hemric and his wife, Kenzie, were married in January 2017
“Kenzie and I were out in California while we were racing on the West Coast and the folks we were staying with introduced us to a game called pickle ball. The best way that I can explain pickle ball is it’s an oversized game of ping-pong or undersized tennis. Kenzie and I love playing. We love being outdoors and trying new things. Whether it’s go-karts, golf, basketball; whatever it is, we just love doing things together. That’s what I love about her. She’s up for whatever and trying something new.
“We’ve been together for six or seven years before we got married, so the timing was right. It’s been great so far, somewhat of a seamless transition. It’s been great getting our families together and going through this crazy life.”
His race winning celebration? A back-flip off the car
“I was watching a [Camping World] Truck Series race way back when and a guy named Carl Edwards won the race and did a backflip. I thought, ‘Man, that’s cool!’ Soon after that I won my first Bandalero race at Concord Motorsports Park and I just got on top of the roof and did a backflip after I won. I was completely winging it.
“Carl’s story inspired me on how he made it in NASCAR. He took chances and found opportunities. People invested in him and took risks. I really enjoyed hearing his story and I connected with him as a driver. A few years ago, I had a chance to talk with Carl at Martinsville Speedway – he probably wouldn’t remember it. I was trying to figure out what to do next [in my racing career]. All he really told me was, ‘it’s hard.’ It sounded discouraging but I took a lot out of it. I was going to really have to work at it if I was going to make it. Carl’s advice really stuck with me.”
Hemric is an avid golfer after picking up the sport four years ago
“I never thought I’d be a golfer. I had zero interest in it growing up. I was so focused on racing, racing, racing. My grandfather had given me a set of clubs and I found out a few of my friends played and it just led me into playing. It is by far the hardest sport that I’ve played. An old friend once told me, golf typically takes four hours to play, but you’re only playing for 90 seconds – which included your backswing and hitting the ball. You’re in and out of the game constantly. I try to apply some of the lessons of golf to life; patience and focus. Just like everything else, some days it goes very well and some days it doesn’t.”
In April 2016, Hemric was a part of the Guinness Book of World Record’s longest high-five chain
“This was a really cool opportunity for a great cause. Autism in the United States has grown a lot and I’m honored to play a small role in helping raise awareness. I was asked to be the guest for this particular event and actually started the chain of high-fives that broke the Guinness World Record. It was a rainy day, but as you can see a ton of people showed up. It’s because autism really hits home for these folks and they want to make a difference.”
Hemric is one of six drivers in 2017 that are competing for the XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award
“Media Day in Daytona this year was the first time I was a part of something like this. Being a rookie in the series, I thought it was cool to see the behind-the-scenes of what goes into FOX’s production. All the little details and smoke shows and neat setups that they have to make their broadcast interesting. I definitely enjoy doing this kind of stuff; you kind of sit back and think, ‘This is cool, I’ve made it this far.’”