NASCAR XFINITY Series star Daniel Hemric is the latest driver to enter the 2018 Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park (CA) on February 1-3, 2018. The $30,000-to win event, which pays $3,000 to start, is drawing racing stars from all around the country to Bakersfield, CA and Hemric is the latest to throw his hat into the ring.
The Richard Childress Racing (RCR) driver recently completed his rookie campaign in the NASCAR XFINITY Series by finishing fourth in the championship standings.
Before beginning another run at an XFINITY Series championship, Hemric will get behind the wheel of a Super Late Model owned by the Wilson Motorsports Team to compete in the 4th Annual Winter Showdown.
The deal for Hemric to race the Winter Showdown came together recently between individuals who have built connections through racing over numerous years.
“In all honesty, this deal came together purely off of long-standing mutual friends and relationships, formed over the last ten-plus years,” Hemric said. “I’ve known Butch and Johnny VanDoorn for quite a while. My XFINITY Series crew chief, Danny Stockman, has known Charlie Wilson, Nick (Sivesend) and the Wilson Motorsports group for a long time. This is due to him growing up and racing on the West Coast earlier in his career. Since beginning conversations with the Wilson Motorsports Team about trying to put a deal together, it has been very eye-opening as to how small of a world it truly is. It has been a pleasure to work through the logistics with everyone involved.”
Hemric will be making his first start at Kern County Raceway’s state-of-the-art half-mile, paved tri-oval. The Winter Showdown, however, is an event that he has had circled on his calendar since its inception.
“I know Kern County Raceway and the entire staff out there are all top-notch,” Hemric stated. “I’ve tuned into Speed51.com for the past two running’s of the Winter Showdown, and every year I’ve been sitting at home watching and wishing I was in it. I am excited to know that I will finally get my chance to experience the race and the facility from the perspective I’ve wanted to for the past three years.”
Through the years, Hemric has enjoyed more than his fair share of success in the racing world. He is a veteran of the Super Late Model wars, with touring series championships in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour (2012), Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship Series (2013) and Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco (2013). He has won Super Late Model Events such as the All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN), the Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway (IN) and the World Series of Asphalt Short Track Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). Adding to his diversity, he also possesses a Tour-type Modified win at the World Series and a Legends Million win at Charlotte Motor Speedway (NC).
Hemric is excited and thankful for the opportunity to get back to his short track racing roots in an event like the Winter Showdown.
“Short track racing events like the Winter Showdown are the only reason I’ve had the opportunity to move on in my career,” Hemric began. “It’s humbling to know RC (Richard Childress), all of our partners, and everyone involved on the NASCAR side of things has given me the leeway and freedom to come back to the style of racing that has made me who I am today. I am ready to get to Kern County Raceway, to say the least.”
Those successes on the short tracks resulted in the Mooresville, NC driver making the full-time move to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, racing for NTS Motorsports in 2015. He completed that season seventh in the championship standings. Hemric moved to the Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) stables in 2016, finishing sixth in the standings, while scoring 11 top five and 17 top-10 finishes in the 23 events.
Hemric’s next destination was the NASCAR XFINITY Series when he signed a deal with legendary car owner Richard Childress. Under Richard Childress Racing (RCR), Hemric made the 12-car “Playoff Chase” and advanced all the way to the final four at Homestead Miami Speedway (FL). Hemric led the championship four in the event until alternator troubles relegated the 26-year-old driver to a 34th-place finish and a fourth-place result in the championship.
With a successful first season at RCR under his belt, competing against the best in NASCAR, Hemric is eager to head to Bakersfield to compete against some of the best Super Late Models from the West Coast, as well as throughout the country. This is an opportunity for Hemric to do something he has never done before.
“All through my career, I’ve been fortunate to battle with some of the best racers from all over the country in different forms of motorsports. I’ve had limited chances to run with a select few from the West Coast, but this will be my first time competing in a Super Late Model West of Missouri,” Hemric stated. “The talent on the West Coast is very prevalent, especially in the top series of NASCAR. I’m looking forward to racing some of the best in February at Kern County.”
When Hemric arrives in Bakersfield for the Showdown, the Wilson Motorsports Team will have a new Super Late Model ready for the Winston-Salem, NC driver. The car features a VanDoorn Racing Development offset chassis, a Hamner Racing Engines Chevy engine and a Chevrolet SS body. Butch VanDoorn will bring many years of experience to the effort and act as the Crew Chief for the weekend.
The Wilson Motorsports and VanDoorn Racing Development Team will strive to better their fourth-place result from the 2017 Showdown when Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones was the chauffeur. It is a goal shared by both the team and the driver.
“The Wilson Motorsports Team and I share the same expectations going into the Winter Showdown: go there, work together and make sure that as the weekend goes on we put ourselves in a position with a shot to win. It is no easy task by any means, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
A large field of drivers is expected to make the task difficult for Hemric and the Wilson Motorsports team on February 3. With Late Model touring, track and even NASCAR Cup Series champions waiting, Hemric and the team will certainly face a demanding task. It is overcoming that challenge that every racer and team look forward to while pursuing their ultimate goal of finishing first.
-Story by Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Sarah Crabill / Getty Images for NASCAR