HAMPTON, Ga. – Daniel Hemric was on his way to a career day on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, in just his second start as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver.
However, late-race contact that led to a shredded right-front tire forced Hemric to pit road from fourth on the track and ended his shot at a top-five finish at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
Hemric started 28th but slowly and methodically worked his way forward through the day, gaining 10 spots in the first stage and ranking 15th at the second stage break just after the halfway point.
It was in the final stage where Hemric managed his equipment and shone, however, clawing his way into the front five before the tire issue with 16 laps left that took him out of contention.
“It was a crazy, crazy day. It is definitely heart breaking not to get a top-five finish for these guys that work on this No. 8 Red Kap/Alsco Chevrolet,” Hemric said. “We put ourselves in position to have a solid day, even though I made some mistakes on pit road – way too many mistakes than what you can afford to make at this level.
“I have to give a ton of credit to Luke Lambert and everyone on this team, because they still gave me a shot to run inside the top five late in the race, but that flat right front tire in the closing laps ruined what was shaping up to be a strong day. We have a lot to learn from this and a lot of positives to take away.”
Hemric had little warning before the tire began to shred, but enough to get to pit road and salvage the race car without any extreme damage.
“It was just all of a sudden that I felt the right front start to come apart,” Hemric told SPEED SPORT in the garage area after the race. “I didn’t know if I ran over something at first, but the crew said the tire started unwinding and finally came undone there before the end.”
In his typical, optimist fashion, Hemric was quick to focus on the positives of his Atlanta outing despite the disappointing ending to Sunday’s race.
“The biggest thing that I take away from here are the things we did well. Everyone came here with a lot of speed and the good thing about something like this happening is that this serves as some motivation for everyone at RCR and on this No. 8 team,” Hemric noted. “Those are the kinds of race cars we need to bring to the race track every week to give ourselves a shot.
“A day like today is what dreams are made of for someone like myself,” he added. “It would just have been better if we could have capitalized on that and finished it off. We had a shot, though, and we’ll build on it and fix the things we know we need to fix.
“It was fun to drive and fun to pass people, and I am looking forward to get to Las Vegas next week.”