Daniel Hemric moves forward with new contract, but without key crew members in Xfinity playoffs

Daniel McFadin
NBC Sports

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — It’s been an uneven week for Daniel Hemric.

The 26-year-old driver arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a new contract with Richard Childress Racing, keeping him in the team’s No. 21 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series next year.

But the rookie, one of 12 drivers in the Xfinity playoffs, also entered the 1.5-mile track without three key crew members who are suspended for the next four races.

Crew chief Danny Stockman Jr., car chief Clint Almquist and engineer Luke Mason were suspended after a piece of tungsten ballast fell off Hemric’s car on pit road at Dover.

They will not be eligible to return until the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The suspension comes with Hemric sitting fifth in the standings, 37 points above the first driver outside a transfer spot. The Round of 8 field will be decided by Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 300.

But Hemric believes his team will be unfazed by the suspensions due to RCR’s depth and experience. Randall Burnett, a former Cup crew chief, will serve as crew chief of the No. 21.

“Obviously, we accepted what happened,” Hemric said Friday. “We know it’s unacceptable and we’re not very proud of how it all went down on our end. But I talked about the depth of the company earlier and how we answer those calls, that depends on us. I feel solid with the group of guys we have to move forward with. I know Danny Stockman and my engineer back at the shop are still very, very, heavily involved in what’s going to happen at the race track, throughout the race weekends and know those guys have been a huge part of what’s gotten me into this situation we’re in.

“I know as a whole, RCR is rallying around myself and Brendan Gaughan here in the Xfinity Series to make sure that we have the best possible shop to run for the championship. We’re going to take what was given to us throughout the week (in) stride and feel like it’s not going affect us in any form of a negative way going forward.”

If Hemric falters and isn’t able to advance to the next round, he can be at ease knowing a disappointing end to the season won’t hurt his career prospects come February. Hemric and Matt Tifft were both announced as part of RCR’s Xfinity lineup for next season. 

“It’s obviously a very humbling situation to be a part of,” said Hemric, who is a native of nearby Kannapolis. “Just so pumped up to be part of Richard Childress Racing. … everybody knows we’re kind of in a rebuilding mode. I think we’ve done that all year on the Xfinity side. I know the Cup side’s doing the same thing.”

While RCR won two Cup races this year, the team’s five Xfinity cars have not won this season. The last year RCR did not win a Xfinity race was 2011, when it only made three starts with Tim George, Jr.

“I look forward to being able to stay with the progression of where the company’s going,” Hemric said. “Anytime you can be a part of that, it’s a very trying time because you can get down. But I think Richard Childress is a great leader, we’ve got a bunch of great leaders, a lot of depth in our company that’s allowed us to take these strides, staying together good or bad.”

Hemric has six top fives and 14 top 10s in 28 starts this season. He’s still looking for his first NASCAR victory after 49 starts in the Camping World Truck Series proved fruitless.

When RCR made its announcement regarding Hemric, it did not announce if Stockman would remain his crew chief next year.

“Danny Stockman has done an incredible job of not only assembling a race team from scratch, which is what we did over the offseason leading into this year,” Hemric said. “A group of guys that never really worked hand-in-hand together. What we did in such a short amount of time was pretty impressive from my side, on the outside looking in and being involved in it. I’m proud of that. We’ll get through the four-race suspension with those guys and kind of reevaluate everything over the offseason. That’s our time to figure out what’s best for my career and what’s best for the company moving forward.”

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