Just four days ago, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Daniel Hemric was able to strum a chord for the first time on his new trophy guitar that he received for winning the All American 400 Pro Late Model race in Nashville, Tennessee. Now Hemric is looking ahead and fantasizing about a kiss. Some would say that he’s probably thinking about his wedding day with fiancée Kenzie Ruston, but before he gets to that day he has to first go to the Snowball Derby where he has a chance to kiss the Tom Dawson trophy for the very first time.
The Kannapolis, North Carolina driver can’t wait until the day he can at least hold that legendary trophy in victory lane at Five Flags Speedway. This year he has a chance to do that on December 6 racing the No. 5 for Wauters Motorsports in the 48th annual Snowball Derby.
“You put your name on that Tom Dawson trophy it shows a lot about what kind of racer you are and about what you’ve been able to accomplish,” said Hemric. “For myself, doing it the way I’ve had to do it and now having the Redbud and the All American 400, this is the one that’s kind of eluded me. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity of putting it all together and being able to hold that trophy up.”
Hemric has made three career starts in the Snowball Derby. He’s led laps in two of those races and appeared to be a serious threat for the win in last year’s running of the prestigious race. But he was caught up in a crash during the later stages of last year’s event, relegating him to a 24th-place result.
In fact, Hemric has never finished higher than 20th at the Derby, even though he’s always so strong throughout the days leading up to the race and for much of the race itself.
“It’s just been putting it all together,” Hemric said. “We went down there and we feel like we’ve taken the best pieces that we possibly could and it’s shown in speed. We’ve led laps at some point, but we’d have a mechanical failure or we’d get caught up in somebody else’s mess.
“You really have to execute from the time you roll through that pit gate on Wednesday until you leave on Sunday night. I know we’ll be good on speed. It’s just a matter of having it all go the way it needs to.”
This year Hemric is heading to the Derby with Richie Wauters who won the 2004 Snowball Derby with Steve Wallace behind the wheel. Hemric joined the Wauters Motorsports team midway through this year after parting with the Carswell Motorsports team that he’d enjoyed a lot of Late Model success with.
“Richie has won a lot of big races in his time, one of those being a Snowball Derby with Steve Wallace a couple years ago,” he said. “It’s really started to come together since we started working together. The good thing about working with Richie is that the common goal is just to win races. We’re going down there with everyone having the same thing in mind. It’s been a good time. I really want to get one for these guys because everyone has worked really hard.”
This year has been a bit tough for Hemric as far as Late Model racing goes, and not because of poor finishes, but because with his NASCAR career blossoming he just hasn’t had the chance to race a Late Model as much as usual.
Hemric is known for being very hands-on when it comes to his Late Model racing. It’s not uncommon to see him covered in grease throughout much of a race day. But now Hemric has to put a lot more faith in his team to prepare the car as best as possible using their own notes instead of his because he’s usually racing a Truck somewhere chasing down the NASCAR dream.
“In years past I’d run full Late Model seasons and I’d run through a whole list of changes that I’d made, especially at Pensacola in particular,” he explained. “I knew what my best package was and didn’t really have to practice all that much come Derby week. But with the less Late Model races I run I don’t really have that luxury.
“Obviously as my career progresses this will make it less and less and then you have to rely on other people to get it there for you. It’s definitely a different role that I’m playing now, but I believe that we’ve learned enough that we’ll have a pretty good package.”
When Hemric gets to the track he’ll have one thing in mind: execution. It’s a word that he uses often. If he can do that, then perhaps 2015 will finally be the year that Hemric gets to do a backflip in victory lane at the Snowball Derby.
“I’m hoping I can go down there and get my job done,” said Hemric. “Hopefully we can take a piece down there that we feel like we’ve prepped for battle, we can execute all day and give ourselves a shot at the end of 300 laps.”
The 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off with the Cat Country/WEAR-TV3 Green Flag Party on Wednesday, December 2. On-track activities start Thursday, December 3, for the opening practice rounds for the Snowball Derby Super Late Models and Snowflake 100 Pro Late Models. The Five Flags Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and Beef ‘O’Brady’s Sportsman divisions will also have feature events on Snowball Derby Thursday.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 4 during WXBM 102.7 Pole Night at Five Flags. The Five Flags Faith Chapel Super Stocks and Modifieds will also battle in their Snowball Derby features after Super Late Model qualifying.
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 takes center stage on Saturday, December 5 as the top Pro Late Model racers in the country qualify and battle for 100 laps at Five Flags. In addition, Saturday’s action features the final 50-lap qualifying event for Snowball Derby drivers to make one last effort to qualify for the 300-lap Super Late Model race. The Better Built Tool Box Pro Trucks will also have a 50-lap feature on Snowball Derby Saturday.
Then on Sunday, December 6, the green flag will drop on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby at 2 p.m. CT at Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway.
For more information on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com. All media inquiries and credential requests for the Snowball Derby can be sent to Matt Kentfield at [email protected]
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-51 Sports/Snowball Derby Press Release.
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com